LOGAN – For the second time this season, Utah State failed to reach 50 points in a game, suffering a 70-43 defeat against the Idaho Vandals in the Spectrum's annual Elementary Day. At the risk of stating the obvious, the Aggies are now 0-2 when they fail to reach the half-century mark. Utah State now sits at 3-4 on the season, while the Vandals advance to 4-2.
The matchup was never particularly competitive. Idaho looked prepared for just about everything it saw, and the Aggies were outmatched from the get-go. They scored first with a layup from Bridget Mullings, but by the time they scored again – with a Tiairra Hill-Brown jumper, they were already facing a 7-4 deficit. With 3:55 left in the first quarter, Sarah Brans hit a three to give the Vandals a 10-point lead, the Aggies only made up enough ground to end the quarter trailing 17-9.
Facing an eight-point deficit, the game wasn’t yet out of hand for the Aggies. The group had a chance to adjust after the first quarter, and did come out looking a lot more organized on defense, but they couldn't capitalize on it, and it didn’t last very long. The Aggies held the Vandals scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the quarter but only earned one bucket of their own in that time. Idaho finished the frame on a 13-4 run and carried a 32-17 lead into the break.
By the third quarter, Utah State was lost and disjointed. The defense was out of answers for the well-oiled Idaho offense, and the Vandals scored 28 points, including five makes from deep, to claim a whopping 30-point lead, 60-30. The game had already been decided by the final frame, and the Vandals coasted to a 70-43 victory.
Idaho outplayed Utah State in nearly every facet of the game, and the Aggies just couldn't find any solutions. After making some serious strides from the perimeter in their last game, the Aggies regressed to an 0-8 performance from behind the arc. Idaho, meanwhile, logged a 12-of-31 shooting night to put Utah State at a serious scoring disadvantage.
The news is the paint was not any better. The Vandals outrebounded the Aggies 43 to 25 and fared much better from two-point range, hitting 14 of 27 tries (51.9 percent) to Utah State's 17 of 43 shooting output (39.5 percent). Idaho's attack came from all over, with 16 points from Amalle Langer, 10 apiece from Asha Phillips and Sarah Schmitt, nine from Aspen Caldwell and eight from Kennedy Johnson.
On the other end, Idaho's defense neutralized Skye Miller and forced her into a rare quiet night from the field. Shooting 1 of 6 from the field, Miller managed only four points to go with four rebounds, four steals, three assists, and a block. Ivory Finley was also inhibited by the Vandal defense, matching Miller's shooting night and finishing with three points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal. Utah State is now 0-4 when Finley is not a leading contributor on the offense.
Mullings, the team’s leading rebounder entering the game, was held to just a single board and two points, playing only nine minutes. Livia Knapp was held scoreless for her third game in a row, Hill-Brown, Isabella Tanedo and Allyzee Verdan all added only four points each, though Verdan did add five rebounds and two assists.
Thanks to a seven-point fourth quarter, Cheyenne Stubbs ended the day with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting. She was held to the four in the first, two in the second, and was shut out in the third. She still managed to muscle her way into double digits but was contained by the Vandal defense for most of the game. She also had two rebounds, an assist and a steal.
In one of the few bright spots, Samiana Suguturaga was productive coming off the bench, scoring seven points with three rebounds and three steals, but she fouled out in 19 minutes of action.
Overall, Utah State’s game was scattered. There were positive moments, largely coming from Stubbs and Suguturaga, but they were overshadowed by an encompassing performance from an Aggies team that just came up short in every major facet of the game. Idaho set the tone early, and never loosened its grip on the eventual win.
For a group still searching for its identity, a game like this could be costly. Utah State faced constant struggles on both sides of the ball, and never really managed to play anything resembling its ideal game. This was a matchup played on Idaho's terms, and that rarely bodes well. The Aggies will need to recollect and move on from this loss with a tough stretch of games coming up, starting with a trip to Provo on Dec. 5 and a follow-up game at Utah Valley on Dec. 9.
Parker Ballantyne covers Utah State women's basketball for The Aggship. You can follow him on Twitter at @PShark14 for updates on the Aggies.