Devyn Christensen, Utah State’s new all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball, never intended to become an Aggie.
In fact, Christensen pictured herself being a beach bum — when she wasn’t hooping it up on the hardwood, of course.
“I really almost went to the University of San Diego,” Christensen said. “I was set on being the beach bum — when I’m not at the beach, I’m in the gym, and vice versa. So, I was like, ‘Yep, I’m going to California for sure.’”
Instead, the native of Caldwell, Idaho, found her way to Cache Valley and USU.
“Once I visited here, it was the perfect fit,” Christensen said. “I could just tell and the feel was right. I actually took my visit just being like, ‘Oh, it’s just another visit, I’ll take one. I don’t (really) want to go there.’ But I came here and fell in love with it and my choice was made pretty much on the spot.”
The decision to do so has paid off in a big way for both parties involved.
This past Saturday, she set the school record for most points in a career. Needing just nine points to eclipse the old mark of 1,353 set by Jerrie McGahan (1977-80), Christensen scored 17 as the Aggies rolled past San Jose State 87-54.
“Devyn getting the scoring record at Utah State is quite an accomplishment,” USU head coach Jerry Finkbeiner said. “Any kind of career record is always a high-level accomplishment by any athlete — whether it be tackles or yards receiving in football, or whatever it may be — but points scored in basketball is probably one of the elite records at a school, in a conference or nationally.
“Scoring records are quite the accomplishment.”
Christensen rewrote the history books at the 11:59 mark of the first half against the Spartans. After missing a 3-pointer to begin the game, she knocked down her next three treys to set the record in quick fashion.
“It’s a special honor just to be remembered in the record books for anything here, really,” Christensen said. “Whether it be assists, steals, rebounds or points, it doesn’t matter. It’s just fun to be remembered as an all-time career record holder.”
Which, Christensen will be in a number of categories.
The daughter of Corey Christensen and Jill Sainsbury also holds all-time school records for 3-point field goals made, 3-point field goals attempted, free throw percentage and free throws made.
Christensen was just glad she was able to set the scoring mark at the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
“It’s way more special to do it at home vs. on the road because you’re playing in front of fans who I’ve played in front of for four years now — people who have watched us play as a team and who feel like they’re a part of the Utah State women’s basketball culture in Logan,” she said. “And my family, to have them there and supporting is a fun thing.”
Christensen spent here first three seasons at USU under the watchful eye of Raegan Pebley, who left for Fresno State following the conclusion of the 2011-12 campaign.
In stepped Finkbeiner and his run, gun and have fun style of play.
However, there was not much fun for Christensen and the Aggies early on. Playing eight of their first nine games away from home certainly didn’t help.
“It was definitely not as smooth as we thought it would be,” admitted Christensen.
USU opened the season by losing eight of its first 10 games, including suffering through a five-game losing streak.
Something had to change.
And it did.
“Coach Fink did that and that’s kind of when we started to turn the corner with our wins, is that he made some adjustments from what he normally likes to do in his system,” Christensen said. “He kind of slowed things down — he refers to it as downshifting.”
The Aggies (13-10, 10-2 Western Athletic Conference) have now won seven in a row and 11 of their last 13 games. USU is currently in first place in the league standings.
“It was finding out what our strengths were and what system fit those best,” Christensen said. “Obviously, it took us a while because we started out 2-8, but now we’re 11-2 with those adjustments. That’s what good coaching is, though. You find how your team plays best and you change it.”
Finkbeiner has noticed a huge difference in Christensen from the start of the season to now.
“She’s really worked hard to fit within our system,” Finkbeiner said. “I was paid a big compliment about two weeks ago. Somebody that saw us play early (in the season) and then saw us play later, one of their first compliments was, ‘Christensen is taking a lot better shots than she did earlier in the year.’
“She probably hasn’t attempted as many shots as I thought she would on the year, but to her credit, she’s trying to fit in with what we’re doing. I think it’s one of the reasons why we’re winning down the stretch here is because she’s not forcing shots, which has kind of been her MO. She’s not taking as many bad shots, which tends to be her MO.”
Not these days, though.
“She’s backed off of that and playing within herself more,” Finkbeiner said. “She’s playing more efficiently now and it has directly influenced our team’s success.”
Christensen currently leads the Aggies in scoring at 19.7 points per game, which ranks third in the WAC. She is also tops in the league in free throw percentage (91.8) and 3-pointers made (3.2 per game).
The 5-foot-7 sharpshooter has accomplished many things during her career with the Aggies, but there are still a few things out there she is gunning for.
“Winning a conference championship and a conference tournament championship, and getting to the NCAA Tournament, is something we haven’t done,” Christensen said. “That was the main goal when I came in here and it’s a big one that is still unchecked. That’s the one we want to get this year.”
The WAC’s Preseason Player of the Year certainly has the Aggies in good position to accomplish those goals.
During her prep days at Vallivue High, Christensen was named all-state three times and was a four-time all-district selection. She was also named academic all-state all four years.
As a senior, she averaged 16 points, three assists and three rebounds for the Falcons. She also ran cross country, as well as played softball and volleyball at Vallivue.
Despite playing in Boise State’s back yard, the Broncos didn’t really show much interest in Christensen. That was just fine with her, though.
“I didn’t want to go there anyway,” she said. “I didn’t want to stay in my own back yard. But actually, coach (Gordy) Presnell didn’t recruit me very much. Their first coach, right before (Presnell) got there, had recruited me. She actually sent me my first letter when I was in middle school. It was just a very casual letter, nothing that was against any rules or anything.
“I had been to a camp and she sent me a letter and it was like, ‘We’re going to be watching you.’ Then coach Presnell came in and I went to some camps and he talked to me a little bit, but not very much.”
Christensen certainly enjoyed playing against the Broncos. During her sophomore campaign, she scored 21 and 25 points, respectively, in a pair of wins against BSU. USU also won both meetings against the Broncos last season.
“It worked out that I didn’t want to go there, but that’s why it was so fun for me to play Boise State these past few years and kind of get up for those games and have some big games vs. them,” Christensen said. “A lot of times I feel that’s what college coaches do with their local kids. They’re like, ‘We can get better. These are the local kids, we can go out and find someone better.’”
Besides San Diego and USU, Christensen was also recruited by Saint Mary’s, Montana and Montana State, as well as a few schools back east.
Christensen wears No. 4 on her uniform in honor of former Aggie great, Danyelle Snelgro.
“In my opinion she is the best player that’s ever played here,” Christensen said. “I wanted to have that target on my back, that reminder that if I want to be the best, I’ve got to wear that number to be able to think about that every day, and become the next one to wear No. 4 — kind of make it into the player that wears No. 4, she’s got to bring a little something extra.”
Once her career at USU is over, Christensen has aspirations of playing professionally overseas.
“That’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing and now that I’m this close, I feel like not very many people can say they’ve lived out a dream that they’ve had since second grade,” Christensen said. “It’s a very rare percentage of the population that can say that. So, that’s something I’m going to definitely look at heavily.”
Before that, she will marry the love of her life, Landon Petersen, in April.
“With getting married, it definitely throws a curve ball in there as far as how long I would be over there or my desire to stay over there,” Christensen said. “But, it’s one of those things where he’s supportive of it and it’s still a passion for me, so we’ll see where it goes. But if I get the opportunity, I’ll look at it seriously.”
A 2010 and 2011 academic all-WAC honoree, Christensen will graduate from USU with a business degree.