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LOGAN – Utah State women’s basketball opened the Aggie basketball season with a quality 75-58 victory over College of Idaho at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Monday afternoon.
The Aggies started the game as hot as they get hot. They were up 26-11 after the first quarter and built a 24 (37-13) lead midway through the second quarter. USU went 4-for-6 from three in the first quarter, led by the heavy-handed Cristina Oliva, who started a perfect 3-for-3 from deep in that first quarter and made her first four 3-pointers overall.
Getting that heat from deep was a welcome sight for the players as they had a bone to pick with the perception that was passed on after the display. The Aggies didn’t shoot particularly well in that game and they weren’t happy that that was the impression they left with the fans. The team knows their capabilities as shooters and wanted to prove it.
“I just want to point out that we are not a bad shooting team,” said graduate shooting guard Maria Carvalho. “We just got off to a bad start, that’s all. We can shoot the shit off the ball. ”
The flaming start didn’t hold up, but the 9-for-23 (39.1 percent) mark from three was much better than the 7-for-30 (23.3 percent) on display and probably more indicative of what it is. this year’s team capable. of that first outing.
Overall, the first quarter was the epitome of everything the Aggies wanted to show in the game. They forced five turnovers, generated points on those plays and shot the ball well. However, after the first quarter, things started to go downhill. Fatigue set in during the second and third quarters as defense effort began to wane and shooting effectiveness began to wane.
“We could have done better. We accommodated ourselves,” Carvalho said. “Like we’re winning by 20 and we say ‘ah, just turn the energy down’ and we could have done more. We have to work on the little details and keep the energy up and stay at the same level and be consistent all the time.”
Both Carvalho and Oliva said the potential for this team is incredibly high if they could play like they did in the first quarter in every quarter going forward.
“If we maintain the same energy, consistency, and effort that we had defensively and offensively, we’re going to win every game,” Carvalho said.
“If we keep that momentum going throughout the game, I honestly think not a lot of teams are going to be able to keep up with us,” Oliva said.
Despite the fatigue and less execution, the Aggies finished the game strong. They won every quarter and did the things that mattered in the few moments when things really mattered.
“It’s going to happen, we’re going to get fatigued at times,” Ard said. “But you have to learn to get through it and have that mental toughness to get over the hump. But I’m proud of the girls. In general, I think they locked themselves in when they needed to. ”
Carvalho was huge in setting the pace for the Aggies despite a lackluster night shot (6-for-17 from the field). She led the team in field goal attempts, minutes played (34), rebounds (nine), assists (five), was second in points (14) and tied for second in steals (three). Everything happened for her.
“Maria is our engine,” Ard said. “She starts here and she wants to pick up midcourt and get into someone and start with her.”
Ard didn’t limit her praise to Carvalho, also highlighting the efforts of Tamia Robinson, Oliva, Olivia Wikstrom and post players Abby Wahl and Prima Chellis. Wahl didn’t produce the biggest stat line (nine points and five rebounds), but he did have +28 on his plus/minus, which was by far the best mark on the team (Robinson was second at +16).
Oliva led all scorers in the game with 17 points, shooting 5-of-7 from 3-point range and was joined by double figures from Carvalho, Mayson Kimball (10) and Chellis (10).
The Aggies are now 3-0 in the season opener under Ard, but the season-opener wins didn’t help USU the previous two seasons, in which they went 15- 39. And after the game, Ard said his message to the team was “not satisfied” with this victory.
“The question will be when something doesn’t go our way, how do we respond to that? That will be the big task for us,” Ard said. “When we lose a game, how do we respond to that? And that’s when we really have to work to stay together. I hope that doesn’t happen all year, but in case it does, we’ll have to adjust to that at that time.”
USU will play its next game Friday at the Spectrum against Southeastern Louisiana, which is where Ard played his college ball from 2004-06. That game will kick off at 3 pm and is the first half of a doubleheader with the USU men’s team also playing that night at the Spectrum.