Utah State women’s basketball (5-5, 0-0 MW) opens Mountain West play this week as the Aggies host Air Force (6-6, 0-1 MW) on Friday, Dec. 31, at 3 p.m.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Radio coverage will be provided by 92.3 KBLU with Ajay Salvesen on the call. Live stats and play-by-play information will be available through Sidearm, while updates will also be provided through the team’s social media outlets. Links to each option will be available online prior to the game.
AGGIES VERSUS FALCONS
Friday’s game will mark the 20th meeting between the Aggies and the Falcons. Utah State leads the all-time series, 14-5, including an 8-2 mark in games played in Logan.
SCOUTING THE FALCONS
Air Force is 6-6 in the 2021-22 season, including 0-1 in Mountain West action, under seventh-year head coach Chris Gobrecht. The Falcons average 61.7 points per game while shooting 38.4 percent (270-of-703) from the field, 29.4 percent (62-of-211) from behind the arc and 70.4 percent (138-of-196) at the free throw line. Air Force has allowed 58.2 points per game with opponents shooting 42.0 percent (251-of-597) from the floor, 23.9 percent (37-of-155) from behind the 3-point line and 69.1 percent (159-of-230) at the charity stripe.
Three Falcons average double figures in scoring, led by senior forward Riley Snyder with 15.4 points per game, senior guard Cierra Winters with 11.3 and senior guard Briana Autrey-Thompson with 10.9. Air Force is also led by senior forward Haley Jones with 8.4 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game, freshman guard Jo Huntimer with 2.9 assists per game and Winters with 2.9 steals per game.
Utah State is currently shooting 31.3 percent from 3-point range this season which would be the eighth-best 3-point shooting percentage in Aggie history. The Aggies have converted 7.4 3-pointers per game so far this season which would narrowly trail the 2012-13 season for most made 3-pointers per game (7.7).
THREE’S COMPANY – PART II
USU is 4-0 this season when shooting better than its opponent from behind the arc.
With seven 3-pointers versus Southeastern, junior guard Shyla Latone now has three of the top-eight performances from behind the arc in Utah State history and two of the top three. The native of San Diego, California, also had six made threes at San Diego State on Jan. 14, 2021, and tied Devyn Christensen’s program record of nine made 3-pointers versus New Mexico on March 1, 2020.
FREE FOR THE TAKING
Senior guard Kaylin Randhawa is currently ranked 42nd nationally and third in the Mountain West in free throws made (46). The senior from Turlock, California, is tied for 45th in the nation and ranks fourth in the conference in free throw percentage (86.8).
As a team, Utah State ranks first in the Mountain West in free throw makes per game (14.2) and second in total free throw attempts (19.3). The Aggies’ current mark of 73.6 percent at the charity stripe ties for fifth all-time in program history.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Nine different Aggies have scored in double-figures this season, led by senior guard Kaylin Randhawa with eight double-figure outings. Graduate forward Laci Hawthorne, junior guard/forward Adryana Quezada and senior guard/forward E’Lease Stafford have scored in double figures four times each in 2021-22.
Through 10 games, Utah State’s scoring average of 71.2 points per game would qualify as the program’s seventh-highest season average and the highest mark since averaging 77.3 points per game in the 2013-14 season. In the Aggies’ first two games of the year, an 83-78 win over Westminster followed by an 85-75 victory of Cal State Fullerton, Utah State topped the 80-point plateau in consecutive games for the first time since reaching the marks versus UC Irvine and Dixie State in November of 2017.
Utah State has won the battle of the boards in three of its last four contests. The Aggies are 3-1 this season when registering more rebounds than its opponent.
LEADERS IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST
The Aggies rank in the top-three in several statistical categories in the Mountain West in the 2021-22 campaign, including offensive rebounds per game (13.60, 1st), free throws made per game (14.2, 1st), free throws attempted per game (19.3, 2nd), scoring (71.2, 3rd), turnovers forced per game (17.30, 3rd) and 3-point field goals per game (7.6).
Utah State also ranks in the top-five in multiple individual statistical categories in the conference as senior guard Kaylin Randhawa ranks third in scoring (16.20 ppg), fourth in free throw percentage (.868) and is tied for fifth in 3-pointers made per game (2.00). Junior guard/forward Adryana Quezada ranks second in offensive rebounds per game (3.10) and fourth in rebounds per game (7.6).
CLOSING IN ON HISTORY
Senior guard Emmie Harris enters this week’s play having suited up 121 times for the Aggies to tie for seventh all-time in Utah State history. Harris will have the chance to pass numerous Aggies this season, given good health. Former USU standouts Hailey Bassett, Rachel Brewster and Jennifer Schlott hold the all-time record with 126 games played in an Aggie uniform.
USU PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Junior guard/forward Adryana Quezada was named the America First Credit Union USU Student-Athlete of the Week on Dec. 13. Quezada registered a double-double in back-to-back games with 17 points and 10 boards in the 66-65 victory against Arkansas State (Dec. 8) and 14 points and 10 rebounds in the 81-55 loss at Ball State (Dec. 11).
Utah State returns eight letterwinners from last year’s squad. Headlining the returners include senior Emmie Harris, who averaged 8.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 22 contests. Junior Faith Brantley also returns having averaged 7.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game a season ago. Sophomore guard Meagan Mendazona also returns her 6.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Junior Shyla Latone is USU’s leading returning scorer at 9.7 points per game across 24 contests. Other returners for Utah State include sophomore Halle Nelson (4.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg), junior Kamalu Kamakawiwo’ole (4.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 apg), sophomore Kinley Falslev (3.4 ppg) and senior Taylor Franson (2.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg). In all, USU returns 65 percent of last season’s scoring, 55 percent of last season’s rebounds, and 80 percent of last season’s assists. Over 68 percent of all minutes played during the 2020-21 season return again for the Aggies this year.
Utah State added six new faces to the 2021-22 roster via transfer. Sophomore Olivia Wikstrom joins the Aggies after playing her freshman year at Northern Colorado. Junior Adryana Quezada comes to Logan after two years at UTSA. Senior E’Lease Stafford joins USU after three years at East Tennessee State. USU also brings in two transfers from Murray State in seniors Manna Mensah and Laci Hawthorne. Senior Kaylin Randhawa also joins the team after spending three seasons at Pacific.
WELCOME TO THE PARTY
The Aggies made several changes to the coaching staff for the 2021-22 season. Jauwan Scaife remains as assistant coach while also taking on the responsibility of recruiting coordinator. Taylor Ignoto officially joins the staff as an assistant coach after spending last season as the director of basketball operations. Marc Wilson also joins as an assistant coach, bringing 21 years of Division-I coaching experience with him. Claire Gritt makes her coaching debut as graduate manager after concluding her playing career at Denver, which included three seasons under current USU head coach Kayla Ard.
Utah State’s 2021-22 roster presents a plethora of Pacific flair, with six players joining USU from Pacific-coast states (Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii). Junior Faith Brantley (Tacoma) and sophomore Olivia Wikstrom (Bainbridge Island) call Washington home. Junior Shyla Latone (San Diego) and senior Kaylin Randhawa (Turlock) come from California. Sophomore Meagan Mendazona (Monmouth) represents Oregon while junior Kamalu Kamakawiwo’ole hails from Hawaii.
Utah State has four players from the state of Utah in senior forward Taylor Franson (American Fork, Utah), sophomores Halle Nelson (American Fork, Utah) and Kinley Falslev (Benson, Utah), and redshirt freshman Amit Lustgarten (Salt Lake City, Utah).