By Paige Cavaness
More than double the average crowd showed up last week to watch the Utah State University women’s basketball team dispatch San Diego State University 72-59.
Total attendance? Fewer than 700 people.
By contrast, more than 9,000 fans packed into the Dee Glen Spectrum last week to watch the Aggie men fall apart against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.
And that’s led women’s coach Jerry Finkbeiner to wonder: Do Aggie fans realize what they’re missing?
Do they, for instance, recognize that Funda Nakkasoglu is the number one scorer in the Mountain West Conference? The sophomore guard — last year’s conference freshman of the year — is averaging more than 21 points per game. That’s not to mention her top 100 rankings in six different NCAA categories.
And do they realize that Nakkasoglu believes she and her teammates could be even better with a bit more support from Aggie fans?
Even the few hundred extra fans the Aggie women saw against San Diego State was a big help, Nakkasoglu said.
“It was great seeing them,” she said. “Their support just helped us and guided us throughout the game.”
“They can cheer when we can’t cheer, and it’s just a good environment for us to be in,” said center Hannah Hutchins of the Hurd students who sat beneath the hoop to distract the Aztecs during their free throws, a classic practice for which the Hurd is notorious — though mostly during men’s games.
Finkbeiner, who has been with the organization for four years, understands that tradition plays into game attendance. But having coached his squad against teams with crowds of thousands of screaming fans, he knows the Hurd could do more to affect his team for the better.
“The thing I want our fan base to know about is that it’s tough on the road in the Mountain West,” he said. “If our student fans want to make an impact on a game, they can make an impact on women’s basketball.”
The Aggies will return to Logan on Feb. 3 to face Boise State at the Spectrum at 7 p.m.
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