FRESNO – Utah State was hoping to pick up its first Mountain West win of the season in the Golden State’s Central Valley, where the Aggies found their last conference victory.
Coming off a competitive contest against New Mexico and facing the only Mountain West team it could defeat during last year’s entire campaign, Utah State was hopeful, and certainly desperate, for a win. Instead, the Aggies were no match for the Pride Of The Valley as the Bulldogs just made quick work of Utah State, 90-64.
Utah State, with 10 straight losses, is now 3-13 (0-5) while Fresno State used the Aggies to snap a two-game losing streak and is now 10-8 (3-2).
Utah State was really only competitive in a single frame, keeping pace with the Bulldogs in the second quarter while already nursing a significant deficit. The Aggies did outscore Fresno State in the fourth, but the hosts had already put a bow on the game at that point. Utah State led for just 27 seconds early in the first quarter, and trailed by as many as 36 points.
The game got away from the Aggies quickly. After playing to a 5-5 tie through the opening minutes, Fresno State rattled off a 9-0 run that Utah State never recovered from. The Bulldogs carried an 11-point lead into the first quarter break, and later, after a 15-15 second frame, into the half.
In the third quarter, the Bulldog offense, which had already been doing enough to hold onto that comfortable lead, erupted. After shooting 16 of 35 from the field and 5 of 11 from three in the first half, Fresno State went 10 of 17 overall and 4 of 8 beyond the arc in the third quarter, building out a 30-point lead behind a dominant 33-14 frame.
Letting off the gas, the Bulldogs’ bench scored only 17 points in the fourth quarter while allowing 21 for the Aggies, and the game mercifully came to an end with a final score of 90-64. It is the most Fresno State has scored against a Division I opponent this season, and Utah State’s fifth loss by more than 25 points (Eastern Washington, Idaho, UVU, UNLV).
Again, turnovers and poor shooting on Utah State’s part were integral pieces in the blowout loss.
The Aggies had 19 turnovers, on which the Bulldogs scored 29 points. On the other side, Fresno State gave up 14 turnovers, but Utah State only turned it into 10 points. From the field, Utah State finished with a sub-par 38.2 percent hit rate, knocking down 21 of 55 tries and shooting 5 of 17 from behind the arc. During the third quarter, when things got out of control, the Aggies shot just 4 of 13 from the field and 0 of 3 from deep while turning the ball over eight times and failing to log any assists.
Utah State was also outrebounded by a significant margin, 44-30, had five assists to Fresno State’s 12, and struggled to establish a paint presence, scoring 32 points down low while the Bulldogs scored 40.
Mia Jacobs led the Fresno State charge with a game-high 23 points, narrowly missing a double-double with her nine rebounds, three assists and a steal. Kylee Fox added 14 of her own points, largely due to her 4 of 7 night from behind the arc. Deajanae Harvey came off the bench and added 11 points.
Once again, Cheyenne Stubbs was the leading scorer for Utah State. She got off to a slow start, scoring just two points in the first quarter, but ended the night with 17 on 6-of-17 shooting. She also had three rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. Ivory Finley had an efficient night, grabbing seven points on just three shots. She was 1 of 3 from the field but added the rest of her points from the free-throw line, where she went five of six. She also recorded three rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
Livia Knapp matched that scoring figure with her season-high coming off the bench, adding one rebound, an assist and a steal in 29 pretty solid minutes. Allyzee Verdan tied her season-high of seven points as well, while grabbing four rebounds and two blocks on the night despite playing fewer than 14 minutes.
Gracie Johnson is continuing to see playing time for the Aggies, though it dipped significantly on Saturday, with the freshman logging only five minutes against Fresno State. She made the most of it, scoring five points on a 2-of-3 shooting performance and grabbing a rebound. She did pick up a pair of fouls in the first half, but saw only two minutes in the final two frames despite keeping that total at a manageable two fouls.
Utah State will bring its 10-game losing streak back home to play Nevada on Jan. 17 before hitting the road again to play Boise State on Jan. 20. Nevada is 8-9 (2-2) on the year.
Parker Ballantyne covers Utah State women's basketball for The Aggship. You can follow him on Twitter at @PShark14 for updates on the Aggies.