WBB Review: Aggies Crushed At Home By Nevada
5 min read

WBB Review: Aggies Crushed At Home By Nevada

Marred by a brutal day on offense, Utah State WBB suffered its worst loss of the season, falling at home to Nevada 89-44. WBB Review:
WBB Review: Aggies Crushed At Home By Nevada
Photo via Utah State Athletics

LOGAN – Floundering for 40 minutes on offense and unable to rise to the occasion on defense when Nevada got rolling in the second half, Utah State suffered a substantial loss in the Spectrum, falling to the Wolf Pack, 89-44.

This loss makes 11 in a row for the Aggies, now 3-14 (0-6) on the season, while marking another step in the right direction for Nevada, which seems to be correcting course. It used the win to get to back to an overall .500 record for the first time since non-conference play and a winning conference record for the first time this season, sitting at 9-9 (3-2). The Wolf Pack have now won two in a row and three of their last four.

The Aggies weren’t just defeated, they were lapped – Nevada more than doubled Utah State's score, providing the Aggies with a 45-point loss, their worst of the season.

The first half was anything but an offensive showcase. The Wolf Pack broke the ice when Izzy Sullivan got a fast break layup off a Lexie Givens steal, and the Aggies didn't get on the board until nearly halfway through the quarter, with an Ivory Finley jumper at the 5:01 mark. The game would remain tied at two as scoring came to a halt for two more minutes before Kaylee Borden got a steal and took it the other way for a Wolf Pack bucket. Nevada scored 10 points in the final three minutes, getting out to an early 12-6 lead at the end of the frame.

There was a bit more action in the second quarter, though not by much. Nevada improved on its first-quarter performance by just six points while Utah State improved by just four, giving the Wolf Pack a comfortable 30-16 lead at the half.

Utah State never really broke free from its offensive malaise, but it wasn't so lucky on the defensive end. Amanda Levens’ team emerged from the break as an unstoppable scoring machine.

With 4:22 left in the third quarter, Claire Jacobs hit a layup to put the Wolf Pack up by 20, 45-25, but that’s not what made this bucket notable. What would have otherwise been a mundane play was significant in that it eclipsed the eventual total scored by the Aggies – Nevada had done in two and a half quarters what would take Utah State all four.

An 11-0 run later in the quarter pushed the Nevada lead to 31. Allyzee Verdan broke up the Nevada sprint with a pair of free throws that cut the deficit to 29, but Jacobs knocked down a three right before time expired and pushed the Wolf Pack lead to 32 entering the fourth quarter, 61-29.

It didn’t serve much purpose other than to rub salt in Utah State’s wounds, but the fourth quarter followed the third quarter's lead. It was a long 10 minutes, and the Aggies were outscored 28-15. When the buzzer finally sounded, it left an ugly 89-44 figure in favor of the visitors on the scoreboard. Nevada had scored its season high, just topping the previous record set against Stanislaus State, 88-53. Against Division I opponents, the previous peak for this Nevada team was 76 points.

The issues for Utah State were seemingly endless. The offense looked directionless, and though Utah State technically improved throughout the game and scored progressively more in each quarter (6, 10, 13, then 15), it could hardly be viewed as real progress. The Aggies committed 19 turnovers worth 21 Nevada points, shot 15 of 44 from the field, hit only 2 of 16 three-point tries, had only five assists and failed to score any second-chance or fastbreak points.

As has been apparent throughout conference play, Cheyenne Stubbs simply can’t do all the heavy lifting for Utah State to win games. Basketball is a team sport, after all. Contributors around her have come and gone, from Finley and Skye Miller in the early stages of the year to Macy Smith and freshmen Lauren Crocker and Gracie Johnson as the Aggies entered conference play. With those players struggling, the team has relied on Samiana Suguturaga to come off the bench and provide a spark. Now, with only two players finishing the game above four points, it doesn’t seem like Utah State knows what it wants to do on offense.

Other parts of the game weren’t much better. The Aggies forced nine turnovers and turned that into eight points. They had just 17 defensive rebounds while allowing Nevada to grab 18 offensive boards, and lost the overall rebounding margin badly, 40-25. Utah State did get six blocks, thanks largely to Bridget Mullings and Johnson each swatting a pair of shots.

There weren’t any Aggies in double figures, and Miller led the team with just eight points. She had two rebounds to go with it, but played only 19 minutes. Stubbs, who had another quiet game, finished with six points. While she is often good enough to break through opposing defenses keying heavily on her, she couldn't swing it against the Pack. Her quiet night extended across the board and she ended the night with three rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes.

Opposite the Aggies, the Wolf Pack had three players in double digits. The leader was Jacobs, who had 18 points while shooting 5 of 10 from the field and 2 of 5 from behind the arc. Victoria Davis and Givens had 13 apiece – Davis was 5 of 6 from the field and 3 of 4 from deep, and Givens grabbed 10 rebounds to notch a double-double, going 6 of 10 from the field. Nevada had an outstanding shooting night, finishing 32 of 65 from the field, 10 of 21 from behind the arc, and 15 of 17 from the free-throw line. It had 42 points off the bench, which was nearly enough to beat the Aggies outright.

The loss is especially painful for Utah State, not just because of the sharp sting of a 45-point deficit, but because an already struggling team seems to be spiraling. Nevada is firmly among the bottom half of the Mountain West, and Utah State suffered a larger loss to it at home than it did on the road against the class of the league, UNLV, just a few weeks ago. There is some justification for losing to UNLV. There is, frankly, no justification for losing to Nevada in this fashion.

It hardly seems like a fluke at this point. This was the second game in a row where Utah State wasn’t especially competitive against a firmly average conference foe, following a 90-64 beatdown at Fresno State.

A 3-14 record and an 11-game losing streak isn’t anywhere near where Utah State wants to be. There’s just no way around that. But, these student-athletes have shown plenty of talent. It's been sporadic, and often without any clear structure (hence the 3-14 record), but the ability is there – and therein lies the cause for optimism, however sparse it may be at this stage.

Stubbs is one of the best scorers in the Mountain West, averaging 15.4 points per game and checking in behind McKenna Hofschild and Desi-Rae Young, two of the nation's premier players and potentially two of the best athletes the conference has ever seen.

Beyond her, every member of the team has delivered at least one encouraging performance, and most of them have several to their name. There's obvious potential for the individuals who comprise the group, even with its immense struggles to come together as a coherent, structured unit.

Utah State will get its next shot on Jan. 20 in Boise, where it will take on the 12-6 (3-2) Broncos.

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