To say this is a big weekend for Utah State’s women’s basketball team would be a gross understatement.
The Aggies (10-10, 7-2 Western Athletic Conference), who have won a season-high four straight games, have a chance to move into first place in the league.
“It’s a huge weekend for us,” USU guard Jenna Johnson said. “We’re coming off of some wins, which is giving us some confidence. We have a big week ahead of us and ... we’ve got to come out fighting and as strong as ever.”
The Aggies kick off their three-game homestand Thursday night when they welcome Idaho to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Tip-off is slated for 7 o’clock.
The third-place Vandals (9-11, 6-3) are right behind USU in the league race. Following Thursday night’s game, the Aggies host first-place Seattle (11-7, 8-1) on Saturday night.
“We can turn things around and be in that front position of the WAC if we can hold serve the next three games,” USU head coach Jerry Finkbeiner said.
The Aggies have won eight of their last 10 games.
“I think there was a focus with all of us and a commitment that we all had to get on the same page and find that chemistry that we are all going to do this together,” Johnson said. “If one person is not going to do it, then we can’t find a way to get the win. It was a whole team commitment that changed the way the season was going.”
In the first meeting between the Aggies and Vandals this season, USU rallied for a 91-85 victory on Jan. 5 in Moscow, Idaho.
“A lot of good things happened in that game and we were very fortunate to win,” Finkbeiner said.
The Aggies’ first-year coach expects this go-round between USU and Idaho to be another high-scoring affair.
“They’ll make a lot of shots and we’ll make shots,” Finkbeiner said. “It was high scoring up there and it’ll be high scoring here, too. It will be a fan-attractive game. Everybody will enjoy watching it and it’s a big game.”
Like the Aggies, the Vandals are hot.
Idaho has won three straight and five of its last six games.
Alyssa Charlston, the reigning WAC Women’s Player of the Week, leads Idaho in scoring at 14.3 ppg. Christina Salvatore is second on the team at 11.5 ppg.
The Vandals lead the WAC in 3-point field goal percentage (34.6), rebounding (43.0), blocks (4.45) and 3-pointers per game (8.45).
Idaho knocked down 15 3-pointers against USU the first time around.
USU leads the league in scoring (75.1), free throw percentage (79.9) and steals (13.55).
Guard Devyn Christensen leads the Aggies in scoring at 19.8 ppg and is just three free throws away from becoming the school’s career leader in that category.