LOGAN – Utah State dropped its home opener against Eastern Washington, 75-39, on Friday evening. In a rematch of a non-conference game from last season that saw the Aggies beaten badly on the road, 84-54, Utah State was hoping for a bounce back this time around – partially from last season's defeat, and partially from a loss at Cal State Northridge to open this season on Nov. 6. Instead, the Aggies fell well short in their first game of the year at the Spectrum.
With the loss, Utah State falls to 0-2 on the season, while Eastern Washington advances to 2-0.
After a competitive but low-scoring first quarter, the game was knotted up at 10. The Eagles opened the game's scoring with a Jamie Loera triple that Skye Miller quickly answered for the Aggies, and the quarter carried on in that fashion. Allyzee Verdan put Utah State ahead by two points with a layup, Aaliyah Alexander matched it for EWU and Jacinta Buckley hit a three-pointer not long after. Cheyenne Stubbs pulled the Aggies within one point, and Milly Knowles hit a layup to push Eastern Washington back ahead by three.
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Stubbs found another basket with just under four minutes to go, bringing Utah State to a 10-9 deficit, and that served as the final field goal of the quarter. Over the next 3:43, only a Tiarria Hill-Brown free throw made a mark on the scoreboard.
But, as it did in the season opener, disaster again struck the Aggies in the second period as Eastern Washington doubled Utah State’s performance, knocking down 10 of 19 shots – including six three-pointers – and stormed to a 36-23 halftime advantage thanks to a 26-13 edge in the quarter.
Utah State, in need of some adjustments during the break, instead came out flat in the third quarter, and was outpaced soon thereafter. Livia Knapp kicked off the scoring for the Aggies in the half, hitting from downtown to drop the Eastern Washington lead to 12 points after an Alexander jumper on the possession prior, but the next eight points belonged to the Eagles and their way to a 20-point edge. Utah State managed to cut the deficit just under 20 points across the full quarter, but still trailed 50-32 entering the final frame.
And it really only got worse from there. EWU started the fourth quarter on a 14-3 run, and with the game fully out of hand, ran up a massive 25-7 fourth quarter advantage, closing out a dominant second half (39-16) and a 75-39 victory that was really never that close past the first quarter.
The game was not without improvement from the Aggies, however slight. The biggest would be USU's shooting from behind the arc, where it hit four shots on 13 attempts after the 0-for it put up in game No. 1. The charge from the perimeter was largely led by Miller, who was 2 of 4, with one apiece from Knapp and Bridget Mullings.
Another improvement for Utah State came at the free throw line. Although it found its way to the stripe at a lower clip, the Aggies were 7-10 from the line – a marked improvement from their 56 percent shooting performance on Monday.
Obviously, Utah State made some steps in the wrong direction, too. After a very solid outing against CSUN, the Aggies regressed badly in the post, losing the rebounding battle (35-31) and scoring only 16 points in the paint to 26 for the Eagles. It was not exactly a good shooting day from anywhere on the floor, with Utah State finishing 14 of 45 from the field (31.1 percent), and this offense just is not going to score reliably if it can't get to the rim.
Seven assists for Utah State was another step in the wrong direction, especially when compounded by 24 turnovers. The Eagles, meanwhile, had 22 assists – including 12 from Loera, while Utah State saw only one player with multiple assists (Stubbs, four) – and just eight turnovers. It's pretty difficult to win a basketball game when facing a nearly 20-shot difference, with Eastern Washington putting up 63 to Utah State's 45, and that ties directly into the turnover woes.
When Utah State did have the ball, Stubbs led the way for scoring with 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting, plus six rebounds, those four assists, one steal and only two turnovers; Miller had 11 points (3-12 from the field) and two rebounds but lost the ball six times; Mullings again came off the bench to score eight points and grab eight rebounds, though she did also suffer six turnovers of her own.
Utah State is back in action on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. MT, as it looks for its first win of the season with a road trip to Kansas City. The Roos are 1-1 on the year with a win over Bradley and a tight loss to UTEP, coming off a 9-23 campaign in 2022-23.
Parker Ballantyne covers Utah State women's basketball for The Aggship. You can follow him on Twitter at @PShark14 for updates on the Aggies.