BOISE — Utah State extended its losing streak to 12 games with a decisive loss at Boise State, 76-41. At one point trailing by 45 points, the Aggies were thoroughly outplayed by the Broncos and looked outmatched across the board against one of the Mountain West's top squads. Utah State is now 3-15 (0-7) while Boise State advances to 13-6 (4-2).
With the loss, Utah State is officially out of the running for a winning regular season record. With just three wins and only 11 opportunities left, another losing season is guaranteed – the fifth in a row for the program. Every other team in the MWC has claimed at least one winning season in that time.
Utah State kept up with Boise State early while the Broncos – who have not only weaponized the three but have started to rely on it – struggled from deep. Once the Broncos found the bottom of the net, they caught fire and left the Aggies behind in a hurry.
After a competitive opening stretch, Utah State held a 7-5 lead with the first quarter withering away. Then, with 2:26 left in the first lap, Dani Bayes opened the floodgates by sinking a three-pointer to put the Broncos in front. On the very next BSU play, Mya Hansen hit a three and it was suddenly 11-7 in favor of the home team. By the end of the quarter, Utah State trailed 13-9.
Utah State was nowhere to be found in the second quarter. Boise State opened the frame with another set of back-to-back threes. That turned into a catastrophic 26-0 run for the Broncos, devastating the Aggies and burying them in a 30-point hole. By the time the Aggies got their first points of the quarter, a jumper from Bridget Mullings, the Broncos had already hit five threes in the period. That bucket was followed by a layup from Cheyenne Stubbs, her first of the game. Lauren Crocker added a layup, rounding out the six-point quarter for the Aggies. They were outscored 28-6 in the quarter and took a 41-15 score to the half.
The Aggies tried to collect themselves at the break but continued to get torched by Boise State, even as the Broncos tried to slow the onslaught. They opened the quarter with a layup from Mullings to cut the lead to 24, the smallest of the second half. Utah State didn’t hit its first three of the game until Stubbs hit one when just 0:39 remained in the third quarter. At that point, Boise State already had nine. This cut the Boise State lead from its largest of the quarter of 37 to an equally unmanageable 34. The Broncos took a 36-point advantage into the final frame, leading 61-25.
In the fourth quarter, Boise State went to the depths of its bench. The Aggies took advantage of Boise State’s generosity and posted their highest scoring frame of the night, outscoring the Broncos 16-15, including the final nine points of the game when Boise State practically refused to score in the final 2:53. All nine points belonged to Stubbs. Again, the buzzer saved the Aggies, who were helpless to protect themselves.
Stubbs had a slow start, but as usual, led the Aggies. She ended the night with 17 points, though a sizable portion of those came when the game was out of hand. She had six rebounds and a steal as well. Samiana Suguturaga, who has been a solid foundation for the bench unit, got her first start for the Aggies. It was a tough assignment, but she played well and had five points, three rebounds and three steals. Mullings added eight points, 10 rebounds, an assist, and two blocks. Ivory Finely came off the bench and added five points and a pair of rebounds.
The star of the night, to the extent that there can be a star in a 35-point loss, was Gracie Johnson. The freshman continues to improve at a rapid pace and is becoming a serious problem for opposing teams. While her scoring ability is still in development, with four points on 1-of-8 shooting, the rest of her game is looking locked and loaded.
Her defense in particular is showing signs of superstar potential. It might already be there. Coming into the game, her blocked shots record on the season was five. Against Boise State, in only the eighth game of her career, she set a school record with eight blocks to go with four rebounds in 21:13.
With the losing streak Utah State was already cultivating, it was hard to imagine things could get much worse. But, it appears that the team has dived to new depths. After a competitive outing at the Pit, the Aggies have been derailed, suffering blowouts against Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State by a combined score of 255-149 – an average score of 85.0-49.7.
In two of those losses, Utah State failed to reach 50 points. While one of those teams is decidedly near the top of the conference, the other two are not. Boise State is 13-6, but the other two teams are hovering on either side of the .500 mark with Nevada at 10-9 and Fresno State at 9-10.
The Aggies don’t need to go 11-0 to close the regular season, given that such a thing would be as unnecessary as it is improbable, but they're quickly approaching the point of no return. Put simply, the team needs to make significant adjustments to be competitive in conference games. It has to start somewhere, and re-discovering the competitive identity this roster was built to foster is the first step in closing out the second half of the season with pride.
The Aggies will come home to host San Diego State on Wednesday before getting a break over the weekend. After that, they will have their first rematch of the season as they head to Reno to face the Wolf Pack.
Parker Ballantyne covers Utah State women's basketball for The Aggship. You can follow him on Twitter at @PShark14 for updates on the Aggies.