By Ashley Springer
The Utah State University women’s basketball team won 90-63 tonight against its second non-Division I opponent, Haskell Indian Nations University.
The game was close throughout the first quarter with the score tied at 15 with just under a minute to go. Sophomore guard Funda Nakkasoglu then made two free throws followed by two layups to give the USU Aggies a 21-15 lead going into the second quarter. The Aggies maintained the lead from then on with the largest lead being 41 at the end of the third quarter.
“We needed this game,” said USU coach Jerry Finkbeiner. “Two of the three games we’ve lost were teams just like this… small, lots of threes… More importantly we needed this game just to get back on a winning track, trying to create some momentum.”
The Aggies shot at 50 percent on the night behind Nakkasoglu’s 27 points. Senior forward Tijana Djukic had a career high of 19 points and freshman guard Rachel Brewster had 17.
Brewster said she was kind of shocked about her shooting average as she shot 5-8 from the floor, including 3-4 from behind the arc.
“Lately I haven’t really had a very good shooting percentage,” Brewster said. “My shots went in so I just kept taking them.”
Nakkasoglu gave credit to Djukic for running down the middle of the lane and getting open.
“She was just easy to give it up to,” Nakkasoglu said. “She was right under the basket… she was out in front of me and it made things easier for me, it made things easier for everyone else because she really opened up the floor.”
Nakkasoglu led the team with nine assists to tie her career high.
“We are trying to take advantage, obviously, of our tall girls because they were a shorter team,” Nakkasoglu said. “I am looking to dish it off. A lot of players are going to start collapsing on me because they know I might drive.”
The Aggies had 50 points in the paint and 20 fast-break points on the night.
“That’s what we’re working towards,” Nakkasoglu said. “We’re going to keep trying to build on that. We need to kind of average that every single game from here on.”
The Aggies were led by freshman center Deja Mason’s nine rebounds, Djukic’s three blocks and both Brewster and junior forward Antoina Robinson’s four steals. The team had a total of 17 steals on the night.
Haskell was led by senior guard Arnetia Begay’s 17 points, four assists and one block. Junior center Keli Warrior also contributed one block, junior guard Kortney Meat led with five rebounds and freshman guard Ember Sloan led with three steals.
The win brought the Aggies to a 3-3 record.
“I think as a whole our freshmen class is starting to kind of get some juice going and starting to get some confidence and having some fun out there,” Finkbeiner said. “I think we played well enough to win a couple of the games we lost this year.”