Williams’ buzzer beater drives USU Women past New Mexico State, 65-63

The USU women's basketball team celebrates after freshman guard Makenlee Williams hit a 3-pointer as time expired to propel the home Aggies to a 65-63 victory. 

LOGAN, Utah – On a night where the USU women’s basketball team made only two three-pointers, a trey by freshman guard Makenlee Williams gave Utah State a 65-63 win over New Mexico State Thursday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

NM State’s Sasha Weber made a layup with 1:19 left to give the crimson Aggies a 63-60 lead. With 49 seconds left sophomore forward Franny Vaaulu’s layup cut the lead to 63-62. With seven seconds remaining, Stefanie Gilbreath missed the front end of a one-and-one and senior guard Cristal Turner grabbed the board. Williams then subbed into the game and made the game-winning shot.

With the win, Utah State improved to 7-10 overall and 4-2 in Western Athletic Conference action. New Mexico State falls to 9-8 overall and 3-4 in the WAC.

USU is now 6-0 when allowing less than 70 points.

Junior guard Jennifer Schlott had her fourth 20-point game of the season with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Senior guard Jenna Johnson had her fifth-straight double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Aggies had a season-low eight turnovers. Senior guard Devyn Christensen added 12 points and five assists. Vaaulu rounded out the quartet of Aggies in double figures with 11 points off the bench

New Mexico State’s Stefanie Gilbreath led the crimson Aggies with 25 points and nine rebounds. NMSU did win the rebound battle 41-39.

NMSU jumped out to a 7-4 lead with solid shooting in the paint. The Aggies then used the three to expand their lead to 15-7 with under 15 minutes left in the half. NM State continued to stay strong from three, shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc in the first 12 minutes. USU was struggling from three early on shooting 14 percent.

The navy Aggies began to heat up, scoring 12-straight points to take a 30-29 lead. A Christensen lay up extended the lead to 32-29. A Scott three tied the score at 32-32 with one minute left on the clock.

Only five different Aggies scored in the first half with Johnson leading with 10 points and adding six rebounds. Christensen added eight, while Schlott scored seven to go along with four assists. Vaaulu scored five off the bench, and Williams added two.

Gilbreath scored 12 points for the crimson Aggies. Camilia Rosen scored seven for NM State who shot 42.3 percent in the first half.

After a three by Gilbreath with 16:07 left, New Mexico State re-took the lead 41-40. NM State used a 9-0 run to take a 45-40 lead with 14:38 remaining. In a game with 13 lead changes, both Aggies would took leads throughout the second half.

The crimson Aggies continued to lead with a Williams lay up cutting the lead to 51-47 with 9:23 left in the game. Utah State remained cold from beyond the arc as the New Mexico State ballooned to 55-47.

Utah State’s free throw shooting and New Mexico State foul trouble helped the navy Aggies claw back into the game. A Vaaulu layup with 4:10 left cut the lead to 55-54. Schlott took over for USU helping USU a 60-59 lead with 2:21.

Utah State was 23-of-62 (37.8 percent) field goal shooting, hitting only 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) of its three-pointers. The Aggies were also 17-of-23 (73.9 percent) from the free throw line.

New Mexico State shot 24-of-57 (42.1 percent) from the field, making 7-of-23 (30.4 percent) from behind the arc. The Aggies were 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) from the charity stripe.

USU remains home for one more game, taking on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. This is the first meeting between the Aggies and the Pioneers.

Fans can follow USU women’s basketball and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics, as well as on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/USUAthletics.

Live stats will be available for most Utah State women’s basketball games through the women’s basketball page on www.utahstateaggies.com, by clicking on GameTracker in the current events box. All home games can be viewed by clicking on “Watch Live”, while they can be heard by clicking on “Listen Live.” Both can be accessed on www.utahstateaggies.com on the front page or the women’s basketball page.

For tickets contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office at (435) 797-0305 or at 1-888-U-STATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) for more information or visit the Utah State athletic web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com.


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