Broncos Stop Utah State

Friday night the Western Michigan University women's basketball team returned to University Arena to host the Utah State Aggies in non-conference action. The Broncos jumped out to an early 18-0 lead and never looked back.

With the Utah State Aggies in their first season since the program was eliminated following the 1987 season, the Aggies were looking to get their first win of the season. Early this week the Aggies defeated Utah Valley State College 75-68 but since the game was an exhibition game neither the win nor the stats will count in the official records.

The Aggies picked a bad time to play the Broncos. The Broncos have started a trend early in this young season. Following a loss to a nationally ranked team the Broncos have come back to win their next game by more than 20 points. On November 23 the Broncos lost to #1 UConn Huskies 95-46, three days later the Broncos returned home to set the 3rd highest scoring game in school history with a 117-90 win over the UMKC Kangaroos. December 5th the Broncos lost a heartbreaker to the Arizona State Sun Devils 75-66, the Broncos then turned around 24 hours later and defeated Montana State 84-62. Just this week the Broncos lost to #15 North Carolina Tar Heels 81-52 and come back 2 nights later to defeat the Aggies 116-65.

In the victory the Broncos set the 4th highest scoring game in school history and the margin of victory was one of the largest in school history. All but four Broncos (Jen Doyle, Nicole Watkins, Kim Driggett and Marlena Jackson) saw double minutes in playing time. For the Aggies only Stephanie Grant, Sammi Stuart and Terrin Johnston were limited to less than 10 minutes of playing time.

For the Aggies starting junior guard Virginia Jennings, this was a homecoming game of sorts. Jennings is a local product coming out of Hastings High School in Hastings, Michigan. Jennings is the only player on the Aggies roster with NCAA Division I playing experience. She was recruited by another MAC school, the Buffalo Bulls, out of high school. At Buffalo she started in 50 of the 53 games she played in. She led the Bulls in assists her sophomore season. Jennings was supported by a throng of vocal family members and friends last night as they were able to make the short drive from Hastings to cheer her on. Before the opening tip-off Jennings and Broncos junior guard Casey Rost shared a laugh before the game.

Early on for the Broncos Rost was on fire, hitting most of her shots but at the 11:56 mark Rost was led to the training room after apparently dislocating a finger. She came back several minutes later with two fingers taped together and a bag of ice. Rost finished the game with 20 points, hitting 2 out of 6 three point attempts, making 8 of 14 field goals and 2 of her 3 free throws.

For freshman Carrie Moore this was a statement game. She came out and picked up where Rost left off. Moore drained 1 three point basket in two attempts; she sank 9 out of 13 field goals and connected for 6 out of 8 free throws to give her a game high 25 points.

For the Aggies freshman guard Christina Zdenek was unstoppable. She was averaging 9 points per game and 2.2 rebounds per game heading into Friday night's contest. Against the Broncos she scored a season and career high 19 points. Her 7 rebounds were also a season and a career high. Zdenek was a perfect 2-2 from the charity stripe. She shot 7-17 from the floor and made 3 of 8 three point shots.

Statistically the Broncos led the Aggies in 2 of 3 shooting percentage categories. From the field the Broncos shot 59.1% (39-66) and from behind the 3-point line the Broncos shot 57.1% (8-14). The Aggies had trouble getting their shots to hit for most of the game, either by being rushed to shoot early or the defensive pressure the Broncos put on early on. The Aggies shot 30.8% (20-65) from the floor and 29.2% (7-24) from 3-point range.

Despite out shooting the Broncos from the charity stripe the Aggies had few free throw attempts. The Aggies shot 78.3% (18-23) compared to the Broncos 73.2% (30-41).

The Aggies have had a long journey in bringing the basketball team back since it was discontinued along with the men's cross country team in 1987 due to statewide budget reductions. Under the direction of Utah State University President Kermit L. Hall and Athletic Director Rance Pugmire, the Aggies have been working hard at building their women's basketball program since the March 5, 2002 announcement that the team would be reinstated.

The Broncos (4-4, 0-0 MAC) next face the Detroit Titans on Monday December 22 at Calihan Hall in Detroit before taking the next 3 days off for the Christmas holiday. Tip-off for Monday's game is set for 7:00pm. The Aggies (0-6, 0-0 Big West Conference) travel to Ft. Wayne, Indiana to take on the Indiana Purdue-Ft. Wayne Mastodons on Sunday, December 21. Tip-off for the Aggies game is scheduled for 1pm.

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