Utah State erases slow start for 2-0 start – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN – Cal State Fullerton started the game on a 20-6 run over the first seven-plus minutes as Utah State got off to a sluggish start. The Aggies struggled to control the ball early on before coach Kayla Ard called a timeout and made wholesale changes, subbing all five starters out. After the timeout, the Aggies closed the first quarter on a 11-3 run and 79-55 run the rest of the way for a 85-75 win.

After the timeout the Aggies switched to a trapping press that fueled their defense. Utah State forced 24 turnovers (14 of them steals), to their 15, and outscored the Titans 35-10 off of the turnovers. Kaylin Randhawa had a game, and career, high 28 points. Olivia Wikstrom was the second leading scorer in the game with 22 points and five steals, doing a great job defending Lily Wahinekapu who finished with 13 points on 3-14 shooting after leading Cal State Fullerton with 20 points against Southern Utah. Manna Mensah also finished in double digits with 11 points.

The Aggies fueled their second half run, down 38-32 at the break, from the foul line. Utah State was 12-14 from the charity stripe in the third quarter and 10-12 in the final period. The Aggies finished 29-37, the third highest number of free throws attempted for a game. The Titans were only 3-4 from the free throw line going into the fourth quarter before finishing 12-18. Utah State started the second half on a 9-0 run before giving up an 11-2 run. Randhawa heated up, fueling the 18-2 run that captured the lead for the rest of the game, scoring 19 of her 28 points in the second half.

A key defensive assignment for coach Ard’s squad was center Ashlee Lewis for the Titans, who was held to nine points and five rebounds on 4-11 shooting. Fujika led Cal State Fullerton with 17 points, while Wahinekapu added 13 and Gabi Vidmar was in double figures with ten points. The Titans shot 43% from the field but were 5-19 from deep (26.3%). Utah State also shot 43% from the field but was much better from deep, making 8-21 (38%).

Utah State was out rebounded 44-33 and 19-10 on the offensive glass and was out scored in the paint 40-22. The Aggies were also out scored 12-11 in second chance points and were out scored from the bench, 21 to 14. The Titans brought competitive size to the Spectrum, but Utah State was able to benefit from the whistles and get several Cal State Fullerton players in foul trouble.

Senior captain Emmie Harris returned to the lineup after not playing in the second half against Westminster. Harris came off the bench and moved into the post as well. Junior Faith Brentley returned to the lineup after not playing against Westminster, or in the exhibition game, but unfortunately left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.

Utah State moves to 2-0 for the first time since 2018, and only the third time since women’s basketball was reinstated in 2003. Next up the Aggies go on the road for the first time to California Tuesday night at 8p.

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