WBB Review: Utah State Can't Overcome Third Quarter Collapse In Loss To Boise State
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WBB Review: Utah State Can't Overcome Third Quarter Collapse In Loss To Boise State

A disastrous third quarter doomed Utah State in its fourth consecutive loss, as the Aggies fell to Boise State in Logan, 73-57. WBB Review:
WBB Review: Utah State Can't Overcome Third Quarter Collapse In Loss To Boise State
Photo via Utah State Athletics

LOGAN – “Our kids… they still believe, they’re still bought in and they’re still going hard,” head coach Kayla Ard said. “They still believe, so they're still trying to bring it every day and I’m really, really grateful for that. It’s a good group of girls and they’re still working.”

Ard’s comments aren’t baseless. Although her team didn’t seem especially interested in winning the game, it was wholly unwilling to give up in a 73-57 home loss to Boise State. With the win, the Broncos advance to 17-8 (8-4) on the year, while Utah State tightens its grip on last place in the Mountain West and falls to 4-20 (1-12). Having suffered four losses in a row, yet another unflattering streak just one win removed from a 13-game slump, it appears the Aggies could once again be in a free fall.

The game started with Boise State playing immediately into its greatest strength, winning the tip-off and finding Natalie Pasco for a three-pointer. Utah State answered with a Samiana Suguturaga jumper in the paint, and was again ready to respond when Boise State rattled off the next four points, pulling within a point on two-pointers from Macy Smith and Ali Wetta with 5:22 in the first quarter. For a moment, it looked like Utah State had enough to stay competitive.

That feeling was fleeting, and it quickly became apparent that Utah State was outmatched. Two free throws from Trisa Hull, a putback from Abby Muse and a three-pointer from Dani Bayes later, and Utah State was down 14-6. In an attempt to stay within striking distance, Cheyenne Stubbs hit a three to make it a five-point game, but the Aggies couldn't build a run from it, and Boise State rushed out to a nine-point lead by the end of the first quarter, 19-10.

Utah State continued to struggle into the second frame, and that Boise State edge quickly grew to 16 points when Pasco hit another three at the 7:07 mark, capping a 21-6 run over nearly 10 minutes of game time. Eventually, the Aggies started to shake off the slow start, but even as they got their footing, they just couldn’t build any momentum.

Every time Utah State showed signs of life, Boise State was sure to respond. This wasn’t more apparent than when Isabella Tañedo drew a foul as she drained a three-pointer at the 3:36 mark.

She stepped up to the stripe and completed what could have been the biggest play of the night, a four-point play that cut the lead to nine points, giving the Aggies seven unanswered points in response to BSU's surge. Wasting no time to punch Utah State in the mouth, Boise State immediately responded with a three from Kaitlin Burgess. The Aggies kept pace with the Broncos, but because of Boise State’s knack for countering every strike, they could not make up any ground. The two teams scored 14 points apiece in the second frame, and Utah State trailed 33-24 at the half.

Ard's team stumbled hard again in the third quarter, losing its grasp on the game as the Broncos stormed off. Utah State closed the gap slightly through the opening moments of the second half, pulling within eight points on a pair of Stubbs free throws, but Mya Hansen wasn't having it. She hit a three on the other end, made off with a Stubbs pass and drilled another three, reclaiming a comfortable 14-point lead and forcing Utah State to call a timeout.

The break did nothing to slow Boise State's momentum. The Broncos were at full speed by then, and buried the Aggies under an 18-2 run across the rest of the quarter, taking a 54-30 advantage into the last frame.

"We had a really bad third quarter," Ard said. "A really, really bad third quarter."

As they have several times during this conference season, the Aggies used the fourth quarter to make a meaningless advance and clean up the final score, though they never effectively challenged the lead. Utah State outscored its visitors 27-19 in the fourth quarter, punctuating the game with a final score of 73-57.

Despite the loss, there was at least one notable thing that went well – the Aggies, averaging 19.5 turnovers a game, only had 10. Ard was proud of the way the Aggies took care of the ball, which has been a massive problem all year.

“I love that we took care of the basketball a little bit better, so hopefully we can keep going in that direction,” Ard said.

Stubbs has been quiet in the wake of her 32-point outing at Nevada, but rediscovered her form this time, dropping 19 points and adding 11 rebounds. Ard chalked her brief lull to defenses adjusting after her performance at Nevada, but it still leaves a bit of concern. Stubbs has long been established as a serious scoring threat, and teams were already prepared for that reality before her 32-point game.

“Right after you score 30, they'll lock you up,” Ard said.

At any rate, it was a welcome bounce-back game for Stubbs, though it came on an inefficient 5-of-19 day from the field.

It was another nice performance from Suguturaga, now a staple in the starting lineup with seven consecutive appearances. Her time on the floor was limited by foul trouble, but she managed seven rebounds, five points and two blocks in a shade over 16 minutes.

“One reason we got her in (the starting lineup) is because of the way she rebounds," Ard said. "She’s just a phenomenal rebounder; she comes flying out of nowhere. She had seven rebounds tonight, and four of those were offensive. She’s been showing us that from the beginning, we kind of went through a couple of lineups, but she’s a good player.

"She had five points tonight, and I think that could have gone in another direction. But, she'll show up and use that athletic ability to go get rebounds, and that's really why we got her in there. Anything else she does after that is icing on the cake. Her scoring is an additional bonus, and she’s a good scorer, but she blocks shots and she’s a rebounder and she knows that. She plays in that role really well.”

Macy Smith came off her season-high 16 points against Air Force and scored eight against the Broncos. It wasn’t her most efficient night, going 3 of 9 from the field and missing her two three-point attempts, but it's still a solid and much-needed uptick in scoring. Her season average is 5.3 PPG, but she’s on an upward trend, averaging 11.3 PPG in her last three games. She also had a rebound, two assists and a block.

Tañedo and Tiairra Hill-Brown both provided solid performances off the bench. Tañedo had eight points on a 2 of 3 performance from the field and hit her lone three-point attempt, adding a rebound, two assists and a steal. Hill-Brown notched seven points, using a 3-of-4 shooting night from the field and pitching in five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Utah State doesn’t get a break after the defeat. The Aggies head next to Viejas Arena to take on San Diego State. Despite just losing a game to Nevada, the Aztecs are very good, and currently sit at 16-10 (7-6) on the season.

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