Las Vegas • For Devyn Christensen, it might be harder to remember all the shots she took compared with the one she didn’t.
Utah State passed the ball to its star senior guard, but she could not get one final 3-point attempt away before the buzzer. Her dazzling offensive performance — a career-high 37 points — came to a crushing finish as the Aggies fell 84-82 to Idaho in the WAC Tournament semifinals on Friday afternoon.
With the loss, the program’s hope to get to its first NCAA Tournament rolled away.
“They just hit shots when they needed to,” Christensen said. “If we just had a few more seconds there, I think it would’ve been a different story.”
The Aggies will likely be left wondering that for a long time, but not just about the shot. Christensen’s 14-for-24 night was all that kept Utah State in a game it lost control of in the second half.
The Vandals burst ahead with a 22-7 run in a nearly seven-minute span. The swing was aided by 19 offensive rebounds — nine of them by Ali Forde — which led to 18 second-chance points. Idaho also scored 21 points off turnovers, turning a game Utah State had led by eight into a game the Vandals led by nine with three minutes to go.
Christensen kept the Aggies alive as long as she could, hitting six out of Utah State’s final seven field goals before the last 30 seconds. Franny Vaaulu tied up the contest with a three-point play, but a foul on the other end gave Addie Schivo two shots at the line with 3.5 seconds left.
Schivo made both, and the Aggies couldn’t execute the inbound play it had drawn up to give Christensen one last look. She was double-teamed, and the ball bounced off her foot as the buzzer sounded.
“I would love to have it again,” said coach Jerry Finkbeiner, who said he drew up the play on inspiration from Valparaiso’s 1998 play against Ole Miss. “I was feeling it. I was visualizing it. It just didn’t happen.”
The Aggies led for most of the first half, but never found the offensive gear that had driven them in Wednesday’s win over Denver.
Utah State shot 43.9 percent for the game, in part a reflection of the 33 3-point attempts it took that accounted for half of its shots. Aside from Christensen, others struggled to get involved offensively.
Jen Schlott and Makenlee Williams didn’t have the encore performances from the quarterfinals that the team had hoped. Jenna Johnson forced the Vandals to take her seriously inside with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but also struggled with some foul trouble.
“There were a lot of droughts, and there were a lot of energy spurts where they scored possession for possession,” Finkbeiner said. “We were misfiring all night long.”
Utah State will have to wait for the results of the WAC Tournament to see if it’ll be in the postseason. If Seattle wins, the Aggies will get a WNIT auto bid.
O Devyn Christensen scores a career-high 37 points with nine 3-pointers.
• The Aggies shoot 14 for 33 from 3-point range.
• Idaho scores 21 points off Utah State’s 13 turnovers.
Idaho 84, Utah State 82
Idaho (16-5) • Salvatore 2-8 0-0 5, Forde 2-8 6-9 10, Charlston 5-15 1-2 12, Barr 8-14 7-8 26, Ballestero 1-9 0-0 2, Karr 4-8 2-2 12, Austgulen 0-0 0-0 0, Schivo 1-1 2-2 5, Graham 5-7 0-0 12. Totals 28-70 18-23 84.
Utah State (18-13) • Vaaula 4-5 1-1 9, Schlott 1-9 3-4 3, Christensen 14-24 0-0 37, Johnson 4-12 4-6 12, Williams 4-7 2-2 12, Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, Furtado 2-5 0-0 6, Bairstow 0-2 0-0 0, Turner 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-66 10-13 82. Halftime—Utah State 34. 3-Point Goals—Idaho 10-24 (Salvatore 1-5, Charlston 1-4, Barr 3-6, Karr 2-5, Schivo 1-1, Graham 2-3), Utah State 14-33 (Schlott 1-5, Christensen 9-16, Johnson 0-3, Williams 2-4, Furtado 2-4, Turner 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Idaho 47 (Forde 14), Utah State 35 (Johnson 10). Assists—Idaho 11 (Barr, Ballestero 3), Utah State 11 (Schlott 5). Total Fouls—Idaho 12, Utah State 18. Technical—None. A—NA.