Utah State women’s basketball posts 81-74 win in Ard’s coaching debut

LOGAN, Utah — Utah State women’s basketball first-year head coach Kayla Ard started her coaching career out with a victory, as Utah State (1-0, 0-0 MW) defeated Montana (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky), 81-74, Wednesday afternoon inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

With this victory, Ard becomes the first USU head coach to win their first game since Cindy Perkins in 1978-79. Fern Gardner (1974-75) is the only other Aggie coach to accomplish that feat.

Freshman guard Meagan Mendazona opened her collegiate career in emphatic fashion, leading the team in points (18), rebounds (7), blocks (4) and steals (4), while also recording five assists in her Aggie debut. Her 18 points was the most by an Aggie player in their first game since Katie Toole scored 22 against Sacramento State in 2015-16.

Leading the Aggies in assists was sophomore guard Faith Brantley, who dished out a career-high six assists. Graduate forward Jessica Chatman made the most of her Utah State debut, recording 14 points and seven assists while going 5-of-8 from the field in 32 minutes of action.

Utah State’s 81 points is the most scored in a season-opener since 2017-18 when the Aggies scored 84 at UC Irvine. USU eclipsed the 80-point plateau just once last season, in the team’s 81-79 overtime victory over San Diego State in the first round of the Mountain West Championships.

Montana was led by redshirt sophomore forward Carmen Gfeller, who finished with 21 points and six rebounds.

As a team, Utah State shot 48.5 percent (32-of-66) from the field (32-of-66), 26.9 percent (7-of-26) from 3-point range and 76.9 percent (10-of-13) from the free throw line. Montana shot 42.2 percent (27-of-64) from the field, while shooting 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from the 3-point line and 70.6 percent (12-of-17) from the charity stripe. Utah State outrebounded the Grizzlies 42-33.

Next up, the Aggies travel to Pocatello, Idaho to take on Idaho State (0-0) on Saturday, Nov. 28, at 2 p.m. Links to live stats and streaming for the game will be available on utahstateaggies.com.

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