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Utah State women's basketball: Aggies confident ahead of tournament

Published March 9, 2014 7:53 pm

Women's basketball • USU's Schlott is named Mountain West Player of the Year.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • The 14-15 Aggies are not what their record appears to indicate.

A team with a losing record could be slumping to the finish of a long season. It's been a long season for Utah State, but the Aggies feel like a corner could be just ahead as they come into their first-round game of the Mountain West tournament against New Mexico on Monday afternoon in Las Vegas.

After a few tours against their conference opponents, they feel like they know who they're dealing with. They have a fully healthy roster after taking a key injury midseason. And they have one thing no other team has: Mountain West Player of the Year Jen Schlott.

It's a good bet that no other team in the league is treating Utah State like a regular No. 8 seed.

"No one really wants to peak at the beginning," said Schlott, who was named the all-conference player of the year on Sunday afternoon. "There was a stretch during conference where we weren't playing too well. Now we're playing together, we're peaking, we're confident."

The Aggies will acknowledge their slide was an ugly one. Between mid-January and mid-February, they went 2-9 against Mountain West competition.

But the recent pickup has been pretty noticeable as well. In their last six games, Utah State is 4-2, and its two losses have been only by two points. While the team definitely has a few close defeats in the rear view mirror they'd like back, coach Jerry Finkbeiner said their eyes are still on the prize.

"I'd love to have 20 wins, but our main goal is to be healthy and ready to go for the postseason, and that goal has been achieved," he said. "We're in a good place right now."

Part of the Aggies' optimism rests on Schlott's shoulders. She's been better than she was even advertised preseason, as the No. 4 scorer in the country (26.3 ppg) and No. 22 in assists (6.0 apg). She's set Mountain West records for points in conference play and points in a conference game.

As one of the best guards in the country, she can give Utah State an edge whenever she takes the floor.

" A great question is what hasn't she been able to do?" Franny Vaaulu said. "I've never played with a better point guard. She's gotten open looks, she's shot over three people. She's been putting up 30."

But the positive change for the team is that it hasn't been all about Schlott lately. Fellow backcourt scorer Makenlee Williams has fully recovered from her midseason injury, and she's scored 20 points or more in five games this season. Her shooting threat forces teams to open up driving lanes for Schlott.

There's also an extra sense of resolve. Against Wyoming, Schlott, Williams and Vaaulu all fouled out before the game ended. Stephanie Bairstow and Ingrida Stukas each stepped forward to help the Aggies beat the Cowboys on their home court, 67-65.

Utah State's first tournament game on Monday is against the Lobos, but the Aggies are not planning on it being the last. —

Utah State vs. New Mexico

P Monday, 3 p.m. MDT, at Las Vegas Schlott earns Mountain West player of the year

The conference announced Sunday afternoon that Utah State senior guard was the conference's player of the year. Here's some of the other all-conference honorees.

Player of the Year: Jennifer Schlott, Sr., G, Utah State

Co-Defensive Player of the Year: Taylor Thompson, Sr., G, Fresno State; Mimi Mungedi, Jr., C, Nevada

Co-Freshman of the Year: Yaiza Rodriguez, G, Boise State; Ellen Nystrom, G, Colorado State

Newcomer of the Year: Deanna Weaver, Jr., G/F Boise State

Sixth Player of the Year: Caitlin Duffy, So., G, Colorado State

Coach of the Year: Ryun Williams, Colorado State

First-Team All-Mountain West

Deanna Weaver, Jr., G/F, Boise State

Taylor Thompson, Sr., G, Fresno State

Cierra Warren, Sr., C, San Diego State

Jennifer Schlott, Sr., G, Utah State

Kayla Woodward, Jr., F, Wyoming

Second-Team All-Mountain West

Sam Martin, Sr., F, Colorado State

AJ Newton, Jr., G, Colorado State

Ellen Nystrom, Fr., G, Colorado State

Gritt Ryder, Jr., G, Colorado State

Bree Farley, Sr., G, Fresno State

Danika Sharp, Sr., G, Nevada


Honorable Mention

Arielle Wideman, Sr., G, Nevada

Antiesha Brown, Jr., G, New Mexico

Ta'Rea Cunnigan, Jr., G, San José State

Alana Cesarz, Jr., F, UNLV

Fallon Lewis, Sr., G, Wyoming


All-Defensive Team

Deanna Weaver, Jr., G/F, Boise State

Ellen Nystrom, Fr., G, Colorado State

Taylor Thompson, Sr., G, Fresno State

Mimi Mungedi, Jr., C, Nevada

Elise Nelson, Jr., G, Utah State


All-Freshman Team

Yaiza Rodriguez, Fr., G, Boise State

Elin Gustavsson, Fr., G, Colorado State

Ellen Nystrom, Fr., G, Colorado State

Ariell Bostick, Fr., G, San Diego State

Jasmine Smith, Fr., F, San José State




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