USU women’s basketball defeats UC Irvine Thursday (with photo gallery)

LOGAN, Utah – In front of 2,400 local elementary and junior high students, Utah State women’s basketball continued its season-opening winning streak as it defeated UC Irvine, 66-52, Thursday morning.

Every Utah State player who saw time in the game scored, led by 14 points from sophomore guard Rachel Brewster. She was joined in double-figures by sophomore guard Katie Toole who recorded a season-high 11 points. Freshman guard Jessie Geer had the strongest game of her young career, tallying nine points, seven assists and four steals off the bench. The USU defense racked up 13 blocks against the Anteaters, just one shy of tying the program’s single-game record. Senior forward Antoina Robinson and freshman forward Dee Moore led the team with four blocks apiece, followed by three from sophomore center Deja Mason. Freshman forward Hailey Bassett made her first-career start Thursday, as the Aggies made their first starting lineup adjustment of the season.

With the win, the Aggies improve to 3-0 on the season, while the Anteaters fall to 0-3.

After a bit of give-and-take to open the game, Utah State proceeded to dominate the first quarter. A 16-2 run for the Aggies, in which the Anteaters were held without a point for nearly four minutes, spurred Utah State to an early lead. The USU surge continued at the end of the quarter, as the Aggies held UC Irvine scoreless for the final 3:09 of the quarter. A 3-pointer from freshman guard Olivia West in the last seconds gave the Aggies a 24-10 lead after one quarter.

The second quarter was tougher on both offenses, scoring just a combined 23 points. UC Irvine ended its scoring skid early in the second quarter with back-to-back layups, but it would be another four-and-a-half minutes before the Anteaters would score again. In the meantime, the Aggie offense also struggled to capitalize on its shots, but the defensive end of the court was busy with several blocks and forced turnovers. UC Irvine had the final say of the half with a last layup, but the Aggies remained on top, 35-22, going into the break.

Both teams had a bit of a slow start to the third quarter, as Bassett recorded the only points on either end for three minutes. Behind back-to-back 3-pointers, UC Irvine started to chip away at USU’s lead, but the Anteaters would only add a pair of free throws to their scoring in the third. The teams traded possession through the latter part of the quarter, but the Aggies controlled the final minute, ending the quarter with a breakaway layup from Toole to give USU a 54-36 lead.

UC Irvine came out strong in the fourth quarter, scoring a quick eight points. However, those shots were between several turnovers, which the Aggies were able to capitalize on. Utah State would end the day with 26 points scored off Anteater turnovers. UC Irvine went on a bit of a run to close out the game, but the Aggies secured the 66-52 victory.

Overall, Utah State shot 39.2 percent (29-of-74) from the field, including 31.3 percent (5-of-16) from the 3-point line, and was 75.0 percent (3-of-4) from the free throw line. UC Irvine shot 33.9 percent (19-of-56) from the field, 33.3 percent (5-of-15) from behind the arc and 64.3 percent (9-of-14) from the free throw line.

Utah State will close out its season-opening homestand next week in a game against Southern Utah. The Aggies host the Thunderbirds on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 5 p.m. The game is part of a doubleheader with the Utah State volleyball team who will play Weber State in the Wayne Estes Center at 7:30 p.m.

Fans can follow USU women’s basketball on Twitter, @UtahStateWBB, on Instagram, @UtahStateWBB, as well as on Facebook, at /UtahStateWBB. Aggie fans can also follow Utah State Athletics on Twitter.com, @USUAthletics, on Instagram, @USUAthletics and on Facebook at /USUAthletics.

-USU-

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