<strong>DENVER–</strong> In a game with 12 ties, a 3-pointer by senior guard Devyn Christensen with two seconds left in double overtime helped Utah State women’s basketball to its eighth-straight win, 92-89, over Denver Thursday.
This was Utah State’s first double overtime game since a 70-64 win against Idaho on Feb. 22, 2009 in Logan. It was the Aggies’ fifth overtime game this season, as USU improves to 4-1 in extra time. USU is 4-0 in overtime conference games this season. The five overtime games is the most since the 2008-09 squad played six overtime games.
With the win, Utah State improves to 14-10 overall and 11-2 in conference play, which keeps the Aggies atop the Western Athletic Conference standings. Denver falls to 11-14 overall and 6-8 in league action. The eight-straight wins ties the 1975-76 team for the longest in school history. The 11 conference wins also ties the 2011-12 team for most conference wins.
For the first time this season, three different players scored at least 20 points for Utah State, led by a career-high 28 points from senior guard Jenna Johnson. Junior guard Jennifer Schlott had 27 despite fouling out with 2:25 left in the first overtime. Senior guard Devyn Christensen added 21 points for the Aggies. Sophomore forward Franny Vaaulu added a team-high eight boards.
The Aggies scored 92 points, despite a season-low four assists.
DU’s Kailey Edwards led all scorers with 31 points, while Morgan Van Riper-Rose added 25. Maiya Michel had the games only double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Turnovers plagued the Aggies early in the game as Denver jumped out to an early 13-9 lead. After the Pioneers jumped out to as big a lead as six points, Utah State fought back to tie the score at 16 with under 12 left in the half.
The Pioneer’s long-range shooting began to heat up as Denver took a 28-20 lead with under six minutes remaining in the half. Utah State, conversely, started cold from three missing six of its first seven from beyond the arc.
Despite the early struggles, Utah State only trailed by six points at half time, 38-32. Schlott scored 17 of USU’s 32 firs-half points. Johnson added nine points with Vaaulu scoring four. USU was out-rebounds 29-19 in the first 20 minutes.
Denver was led by nine points from Edwards with both Michel and Van Riper-Rose adding seven points apiece. Michel also added seven boards to lead all players.
In the second half, foul trouble came into play with sophomore guard Elise Nelson, Schlott and Vaaulu all earning their third fouls early in the half.
In the second-half, the Aggies continued having a difficult finding rhythm and making a strong run. Despite the struggles, a pair of Johnson free throws cut the lead to, 58-54, with under nine minutes left. An old-fashioned three-point play by Johnson cut the lead to three, 60-57 with 7:57 remaining.
With just 7:18 left in the game, Christensen dove to the ground to grab the steal, passing to a wide open Pualei Furtado for the easy layup. The basket cut the lead to 61-60 the closest Utah State had been since it was tied 16-16. Utah State took its first lead of the game, 63-61, on a three by Christensen with 6:14 left on the clock.
USU used a 9-0 lead to go up 67-61 using solid defense and better rebounding. The Pioneers came roaring back, scoring seven-straight, re-taking the lead 70-69 with just over a minute remaining. With 10 seconds remaining, Edwards drilled a jumper to give the Pioneers a 74-72 advantage. USU would not be stopped though as Nelson sunk a jumper with two tics on the clock left to send the game to overtime.
Despite Vaaulu and Schlott both fouling out, the Aggies continued to fight in the first extra period. In overtime, the teams traded baskets. Neither took bigger than a two-point lead in the first overtime with freshman forward Haylee Thompson making a layup with 51 seconds left to tie the score, 83-83. The Pioneers were not able to convert the final shot, due to strong Aggie defense, and five more minutes were placed on the clock.
Denver took as big a lead as four points in the second overtime, but USU continued showed heart, staying in the game. Furtado, who came up big for the Aggies, tied the score for the 12th and final time with a layup with 2:22 left. Neither team scored again until the Christensen three with two second left.
For the game, USU was 30-of-68 from the field good for 44.1 percent. The Aggies were 6-of-18 from three for 33.3 percent. USU was once again solid from the free throw line, making 26-of-34 for 76.5 percent. Denver was 31-of-74 from the field, which was good for 41.9 percent. The Pioneers were 5-of-14 from three for 35.7 percent and 22-of-30 from the charity stripe for a 73.3 percentage.
The Aggies conclude the road trip with a televised game against New Mexico State on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN3.