LOGAN – Fresno State, the only MWC team Utah State beat last season, exacted its revenge against the Aggies and completed a season sweep with a 70-50 beatdown in the Spectrum. In its two losses to the Bulldogs, Utah State amassed a combined deficit of a whopping 46 points.
The Aggies were flying after a win at Nevada, but came crashing back to Earth on Saturday afternoon. This was specifically true of star point guard Cheyenne Stubbs, whose career performance lifted Utah State past the Wolf Pack. She was held to just nine points against Fresno State, six of which came in the final three minutes of the game, when it was already well out of hand. With the defeat, Utah State falls to 4-17 (1-9) on the year, while Fresno State is now 11-12 (4-6).
After the first quarter, when it was becoming clear that Stubbs was contained, the middle quarters were primarily claimed by one of her teammates, in an attempt to rally Utah State back into the game. The second quarter belonged to Samiana Suguturaga, and the third went to Ivory Finley. But, facing a 17-point deficit, the fourth quarter saw the Aggies cap a flat performance by taking most of the frame off.
Utah State fell behind early, and never really threatened a comeback bid. The Aggies led through the opening minutes and staked out a quick 6-5 edge at the 7:19 mark of the first quarter, but Mia Jacobs hit a three-pointer on Fresno State’s next possession, and Utah State never again took control of the scoreboard. It did tie the game briefly with a nice sequence from Gracie Johnson, who grabbed a Jacobs miss on the defensive end and snared another board on the other end, putting it back up to know the game at 8-8 with 4:33 left in the frame.
But, the Aggies promptly surrendered 13 unanswered points, and faced a 21-10 margin to close the period after Allyzee Verdan snapped the dry spell with 14 seconds remaining.
The second quarter was Suguturaga's time to shine, though she couldn’t do enough to keep the Aggies competitive. Logging her fourth start of the year, the forward scored six of the team’s nine second-quarter points and added two rebounds, a steal and a block in the quarter. Without much help around Suguturaga, Utah State could only watch as the Bulldogs pulled away, winning the quarter 16-9 and taking an 18-point lead, 37-19, into the break.
The third quarter was all Finley’s, though she garnered a bit more assistance than Suguturaga had. She had nine points in the frame, accounting for just under half of the team’s 19 points. Tiairra Hill-Brown and Macy Smith both pitched in three points, and Johnson and Verdan added two more apiece. That was enough to outscore the Bulldogs, though the 19-18 quarter for the Aggies wasn’t nearly enough to get them back in the game.
Fresno State flipped on the cruise control through the final frame, waiting patiently for the last set of 10 minutes to melt off the clock so it could end a four-game skid.
For much of the quarter, it seemed that Utah State would not score at all. The Aggies went nearly eight full minutes without putting any points on the board, and Fresno State grew its lead to as many as 27 points on a Maria Konstantinidou jumper with 2:50 remaining.
Stubbs finally put the Aggies on the board with a deep three at the 2:06 mark, sparking a small flurry to end the game against a Fresno State side that was purely focused on running out the clock. Hill-Brown hit a layup, Isabella Tañedo knocked down a pair of free shots and a layup of her own, and a barely-contested three from Stubbs with two seconds left closed out a 12-point quarter for the Aggies in the 20-point home loss.
Utah State's ability to compete in Mountain West games right now is incumbent entirely on Stubbs. After setting a career-high of 32 points in Reno, she struggled to generate any meaningful offense against the Bulldogs, adding four assists and two rebounds to her nine-point outing, while turning the ball over six times.
Stepping up to lead the Aggies in their losing effort was Finley who had a mostly solid, but not perfect game. She scored a team-high 11 points, but also claimed a team-worst seven turnovers to go with a pair of rebounds, an assist and two steals. Suguturaga had a good game as well, though she, like Finley, is not really meant to be leading the Utah State attack. She ended the night with eight points, six rebounds, a steal and two blocks.
Stubbs, Finley and Suguturaga were the only starters to score. Off the bench, Tañedo had six points, Hill-Brown added five, Johnson and Verdan both finished with four, and Smith pitched in three, shooting 1 of 7 from the field.
Utah State is now off to Laramie to take on one of the MWC's best teams in Wyoming (13-8, 8-2).
Parker Ballantyne covers Utah State women's basketball for The Aggship. You can follow him on Twitter at @PShark14 for updates on the Aggies.