SAN DIEGO, Calif. – With all but three points scored by the starting five players, Utah State women’s basketball picked up its first win of the Mountain West season Saturday, topping San Diego State on the road, 55-36.
Sophomore guard Funda Nakkasoglu led the Aggies in scoring with 37 points on the day, shooting 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from the floor. She was the only USU player to score in double figures, but two players had double-digit rebounds, as freshman guard Rachel Brewster led with 11, matching her career-best, and senior forward Julianne Anchling added a career-high 10.
With the win, Utah State improves to 6-7 on the year, picking up its first Mountain West win to go to 1-1 in league action. With the loss, San Diego State falls to the same records, 6-7 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
The Aggies started out hot Saturday afternoon, gaining early command of the game. An early 3-pointer from freshman guard Rachel Brewster put USU on the board, which would then jump out to a 7-0 run. The Aggie defense held the Aztecs without a score until the 5:30 mark of the first quarter. The USU offense continued to play well, forcing a San Diego State timeout, up 14-3. The Aztecs scored four-straight to end the quarter, but the Aggies maintained the 18-9 lead.
The second quarter took on a much slower pace, as both teams scored just four points apiece by the media timeout. The defensive battle continued through the remainder of the quarter, ending with a 30-16 lead for the Aggies at the break. The Aztecs missed their last four shots of the quarter, while the Aggies made their last three. SDSU ended the half shooting 12.5 percent (4-of-32) from the field, a season-low by a USU opponent in a single half. In the meantime, the Aggies shot 46.2 percent (12-of-26) in the first two quarters.
Coming out of the break, the slower speed of play continued and the Aggie defense held strong. USU held the Aztecs to one of its last 15 shots, forcing a 5:38 scoring drought. At the same time, the Utah State picked back, finding the 20-point advantage at the 2:53 mark. Not letting up, Nakkasoglu drained the team’s third 3-pointer of the quarter, hitting the 20-point mark for the eighth time this season. By the end of the quarter, the Aggies extended their lead to 44-21, the biggest lead USU has had against a Division I opponent this season.
The Aggies continued to dominate into the final quarter of the game, while the Aztec’s scoring skid continued. At the 7:11 mark, nearly nine minutes after its last basket, Deidra Smith put SDSU back on the scoreboard. The jumper lit a spark in the Aztec offense who shot 5-of-7 over a stretch, including three-straight shots behind the arc, but it wasn’t enough to catch the Aggies. SDSU missed a final pair of free throws with 12 seconds remaining, securing the win for the Aggies.
Overall, Utah State shot 45.7 percent (21-of-46) from the field, 35.3 percent (6-of-17) from the 3-point line and 70.0 percent (7-of-10) from the free throw line. San Diego State shot 18.8 percent (12-of-64) from the field, 16.0 percent (4-of-25) from behind the arc and 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from the free throw line, season-lows for all of Utah State’s opponents this year.
The Aggies continue the conference roadswing into next week, when USU plays at Boise State on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. Utah State then returns home for the weekend, hosting New Mexico on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 2 p.m.
A USU women’s sports pass is available for $75, giving the owner entry to all home volleyball, women’s basketball and gymnastics events. The pass, as well as individual game tickets, are available through the USU Athletics Ticket Office. Fans can find more information by calling (435) 797-0305 or at 1-888-U-STATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) or by visiting the Utah State Athletics website at www.utahstateaggies.com.
Fans can follow USU women’s basketball on Twitter, @UtahStateWBB, on Instagram, @USUWBasketball, as well as on Facebook, at USUWBB. Aggie fans can also follow Utah State Athletics on Twitter.com, @USUAthletics, on Instagram, @USUAthletics and on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.