Utah State’s women’s basketball team used a strong third quarter to pull away from Westminster, outscoring the visitors 21-4 in the frame, to win 77-56 in the exhibition game Friday night at the Spectrum.
Four players scored in double figures and three had more than 16 points in the game. Olivia West led the team in scoring with 21 points, followed by Hailey Bassett-Meachum (17) and Shannon Dufficy (16). Emmie Harris came off the bench to add 12 points, thanks in part to her making all three of her 3-point shots.
Eliza West didn’t get going from a scoring standpoint — just two points on 1 of 6 shooting — but initiated offense well and ended up with 11 assists on the night and zero turnovers. That assist-to-turnover ratio impressed head coach Jerry Finkbeiner.
“If you have a point guard do close to that, you’ve got a good chance to win,” Finkbeiner said. “We made sure everybody high-fived her in the locker room because those 11 assists probably went to about eight or nine different girls.”
As a team, the Aggies shot a blistering 52.6 percent from beyond the arc, making 10 3-pointers on the night. Last season, USU made 10 3-balls only once — a 74-72 overtime loss against Denver.
“I believe this is a sign of things to come,” Olivia West said. “Every single time I hit the gym, there’s someone else in the gym. And I just think everyone has realized what it takes, this offseason, to hit those shots and be a 3-point threat. And I think that we worked really hard and it shows on the scoresheet, but it’s going to show all season.”
Though there were few times in the game the Aggies struggled, the Division II Westminster were still hanging in the game at halftime as it only trailed, 40-34
“We always know that Westminster going to be tough,” Olivia West said. “They always give us a run for our money. They don’t have anything to lose and they’ve got quality players, so they’ve got the talent to be able to give us a run.”
The Griffins shot 57.1 percent from the field in the first half, led by former Sky View standout Hunter Krebs, who had 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting, including 2 of 2 from deep. Another former Bobcat, Kaylee Carlsen, had seven points at the half and was perfect a perfect 2 of 2 from the field and free throw line.
USU’s defense put the clamps on that in the third quarter, however. Westminster made just one field goal in the third and made 2 of 4 free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Aggie offense had 21 points, their highest tally of the four quarters.
Krebs was scoreless the entire second half, partly due to the fact that Deja Mason, who hadn’t played competitive basketball since July, entered the game in the second half and defended the sophomore.
Not everything went perfectly, or even well. One disappointing aspect of the game was the poor showing from junior college transfer Marlene Aniambossou. The native of Benin finished with zero points, four turnovers and three fouls in 14 minutes of play.
Finkbeiner wasn’t too concerned, though, reaffirming his belief in the potential of the junior forward, adding that she just needs to adjust to the difference between junior college basketball and the Division I game.
“We will reach our potential when Marlene shows us what she shows us in practice every day,” Finkbeiner said.
USU will open its season officially at Washington State on Nov. 6. The Aggies will then host Northern New Mexico in the home opener on Nov. 9.