Bittersweet birthday for Stephens-Jenkins
Sometimes the best birthday present is playing in front of a home crowd. For sophomore guard Tyler Stephens-Jenkins of the women’s basketball team, that was the case in the Jacks’ 85–75 overtime loss to the Utah State Aggies on Saturday. For as well as she played, however, a win would have been the icing on the cake.
“I played good, but a win would’ve made it that much better,” Stephens-Jenkins said. “There wasn’t that much pressure. It was actually more fun just going out there and playing on my birthday.”
Stephens-Jenkins had quite the day on the court, scoring 17 points, three 3-pointers and notching her most points scored this season. Coming into the contest, Stephens-Jenkins was averaging 7.4 points a game.
“She did amazing,” said sophomore guard Amy Patton. “She played an all-around game. I wish we could’ve gotten a win for her since it was her birthday today. It would’ve been nice, but otherwise, I think Tyler did an awesome job, and I’m happy for her.”
Head coach Laurie Kelly said she did not expect more out of Stephens-Jenkins just because it was her birthday. “I’m happy that it was her birthday, and I would’ve loved to get a win for her,” Kelly said. “Tyler plays hard and plays defense like that every single game, so I don’t think there was a difference whether it was her birthday or not. She shows up and competes every game.”
Despite the loss, the team knows there are still plenty of games to play and a lot more to learn from this overtime thriller. Big Sky Conference play does not start until Jan. 6.
“Our team is much more balanced than we were a year ago,” Kelly said. “Tyler is playing a lot more confidently than she had been. Coming in with a year under her belt, she’s hit a lot of really big shots for us down the stretch. I think she feels really good with the ball in her hands late, and she likes that three in the corner. She’s two or three of those in our wins, so when she hit that one, I had to say, ‘We got this.’”
Stephens-Jenkins had a 3-pointer toward the end of regulation that put the Jacks up 65–60 and nearly sealed the victory.
“It would’ve been better to get the win, but next time we’re in this situation, we’re going to come out with a win,” Stephens-Jenkins said. “When we go into conference, this game is going to help us out. This won’t be our last overtime game.”