WBB Review: Air Force Dominates Utah State In Final Road Game
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WBB Review: Air Force Dominates Utah State In Final Road Game

Utah State WBB's final road game of the season went from bad to worse, as the Aggies fell behind early and never managed to get out of first gear in a blowout loss to Air Force. WBB Review:
WBB Review: Air Force Dominates Utah State In Final Road Game
Photo via Air Force Athletics

COLORADO SPRINGS – In a ruthless display of the pecking order at the bottom of the Mountain West, Air Force made very clear the gap between it and Utah State, handing the Aggies an 85-46 whooping in their final road game of the season.

Back-to-back 20-12 quarters in the first half set the tone for the beatdown. The third quarter took things from bad to worse for the Aggies, and set them up for a fourth quarter that led them straight into the 39-point loss, which is among their worst of the season.

With the loss, Utah State falls to 5-23 (2-15) while Air Force advances to 14-16 (7-10), one step closer to a .500 overall record.

The game began with Jayda McNabb hitting a three-pointer, which turned immediately into a 10-2 Air Force run to put Utah State in a hole early, bolstered only by a Cheyenne Stubbs layup in the first five minutes. Allyzee Verdan broke Utah State out of its stupor with four quick points and made it a 10-6 game with 4:14 left in the opening stanza, but Alexis Cortez responded on behalf of the Falcons with a layup of her own to answer Verdan's surge.

Verdan, in the midst of some of the best minutes of her season, hit another layup to once again make it a four-point game, landing the score at 12-8. From there, though, Utah State did nothing but slowly shrink in Air Force’s rearview mirror. The Falcons doubled up their guests across the final 2:30 and took a 20-12 edge into the second frame.

In the second quarter, the Falcons geared up for a repeat performance, beating the Aggies by the same margin. In this frame, Stubbs, who had six points in the first quarter, didn’t score until she knocked down a three in the final moments of the frame. Macy Smith did her best to pick up the slack, scoring five points and dishing an assist to Livia Knapp. Ali Wetta also looked to contribute and added a layup, but the Aggies continued to slide, resulting in a 40-24 game at the midway point.

The Aggies were effectively absent in the third, putting up one of the more lethargic performances of the season. The frame was, plainly, verging on pitiful. Verdan had two layups, and the only other points the Aggies could scrounge up were four free throws. All the while, the Falcons were running laps around the Aggies, racking up 21 points and carrying a 29-point lead into the last period.

The Aggies did post their highest-scoring frame as the intensity of the aggressive Air Force defense eased up a bit, but they forgot to pair that with tough defense of their own, and the Falcons posted their highest-scoring frame as well. Knapp had a nice run during the quarter, scoring seven straight points for the Aggies, but it didn’t make a dent. The Aggies couldn't get stops, and gave up even more ground in the final period, falling 24-14 in the last 10 minutes.

At long last, the buzzer arrived. It was a welcome reprieve for Utah State, ending a woeful and disquieting performance.

With 11 points, Stubbs simultaneously led the Aggies in scoring while also coming up significantly below her average, which pretty well sums up how badly the Aggies suffered. She was 3 of 16 from the field and 1 of 5 from three, picking up nearly half of her points on four free throws. She also had two rebounds, an assist and a steal.

Verdan had 10 points, with six coming in the first quarter and the rest in the third. She was 4 of 8 from the field with nine rebounds and a steal. Knapp came off the bench and had a good game, including her strong fourth quarter. She logged 10 points and three rebounds, while Smith added seven points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

For the Academy, Milahnie Perry led the way with 20 points, a rebound, four assists, a steal and two blocks. Coming off the bench, Keelie O’Hollaren had a fantastic performance, scoring 18 points and hitting six three-pointers. She also had nine rebounds, an assist and two steals. Madison Smith pitched 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.

In both the objective and subjective senses, this was one of the worst losses of the season for Utah State. The lackluster campaign has just a single contest left before the MWC converges on Sin City to crown a champion, as Utah State will host UNLV for senior night on March 5.

Parker Ballantyne covers Utah State women's basketball for The Aggship. You can follow him on Twitter at @PShark14 for updates on the Aggies.