LOGAN, Utah – Utah State held off a pesky South Dakota State, winning 60-57, Monday afternoon in a School Day game, as the USU women’s basketball team hosted local elementary children at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. USU improved to 2-0 in School Day games, winning last year’s contest. The Aggies also moved to 6-5 on the season, winning six of their last seven games, while the Jackrabbits slid to 4-8, dropping their fourth-straight and seventh in last eight outings. Monday was the first-ever meeting between USU and SDSU, but the Aggies are now 2-1 against Summit League opponents this season, topping SDSU and Southern Utah, while losing to North Dakota State. Sophomore guard Devyn Christensen netted four free throws in the game’s final 11.9 seconds to seal USU’s win, part of Utah State’s season-high 20 free throws, the most since at Nevada last season on Feb. 13. After senior guard Alice Coddington hit a layup to give USU a 56-53 lead with 1:29 to play, neither team scored until SDSU’s Jennie Sunnarborg with 14.2 seconds remained to close to 56-55. Christensen hit a pair of free throws with 11.9 ticks to go, putting USU up, 58-55. The Jackrabbits got an open three-point attempt by Jill Young from the left wing that was off the mark, but Sunnarborg flew in for the rebound and putback with 1.3 seconds. Christensen was fouled on the inbounds pass and drained both ensuing charity stripe shots with 0.9 seconds on the clock for the winning margin as SDSU wasn’t able to get a shot off before the buzzer. Christensen led USU with 14 points off the bench, including 7-of-7 at the free throw line, while sophomore guard Jenna Johnson added 12 points and Coddington added 11. Junior forward Ashlee Brown pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, while dishing out a team-leading and career-high five assists. Sophomore forward Banna Diop added seven boards, while senior guard Amber White snared eight, as USU had a 42-37 rebounding edge. SDSU was led by Sunnarborg’s game-high 23 points, while Megan Waytashek added 11. Sunnarborg, Waytashek and Young shared team-high rebound honors with five boards. Tara Heiser dished out a game-high nine assists. Utah State was 20-of-25 (80.0 percent) at the free throw line, its best percentage at home and its second 80-percent outing of the season, joining a 86.7 percent effort at Utah Valley on Dec. 1. The Aggies also were 18-of-52 (34.6 percent) field goal shooting Monday, hitting 4-of-12 (33.3 percent) of their three-pointers. South Dakota State was 35.5 percent (22-of-62) from the field, making just 3-of-20 (15.0 percent) behind the arc. The Jackrabbits were 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) at the free throw line. Monday’s game featured three score ties and eight lead changes, as USU opened a 7-0 lead in the first minute and a half of play, before SDSU came back to knot it at 11-all at the 11:29 mark. Christensen capped an 8-1 USU run with a three-pointer to open a 19-12 lead and the Aggie advantage reached its largest of the game at 29-20 with 1:48 to go on a pair of White free throws. A layup by Katie Lingle with seven seconds left pulled SDSU within 29-22, which remained the score into halftime. The Jackrabbits charged out on a 16-6 run to open the second half, taking a 38-35 lead with 14:17 to go, with Waytashek scoring the last six points of the streak. USU scored the game’s next eight points, as Diop and sophomore guard Chelsea Burns hit three-pointers followed by a Coddington jumper for a 43-38 Aggie lead with 11:43 on the clock. Neither team led by any more than three points from there on out. The teams traded the lead for the next nine minutes of action until USU took the lead for good with 2:24 to go on a pair of free throws by Brown for a 52-51 advantage, setting up the game’s last minute drama. The Aggies conclude their four-game homestand by taking on border-foe Wyoming on Thursday, Dec. 23 at 2 p.m., prior to the two men’s contests of the World Vision Invitational, sponsored by Gossner Foods at 5:30 and 8 p.m., which runs from Tuesday-Thursday. To purchase tickets, or for more Aggie basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305, in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or on-line 24 hours a day at www.utahstateaggies.com under the “tickets” drop down menu. Fans can follow USU women’s basketball and Coach Pebley on Twitter at http://twitter.com/UTAHSTATEofmind and Utah State Athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics. -USU-
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