WBB Review: UNLV Gives Utah State One More Blowout To Close The Regular Season
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WBB Review: UNLV Gives Utah State One More Blowout To Close The Regular Season

Utah State WBB closed out its regular season on the wrong side of a matchup with UNLV, falling by 60 points to the dominant Rebels in Logan. WBB Review:
WBB Review: UNLV Gives Utah State One More Blowout To Close The Regular Season
Photo via Utah State Athletics

LOGAN – In the final regular season context of the season, the first-place team in the Mountain West Conference made quick work of the side opposite in the standings. Utah State provided little more than valuable practice time, as UNLV put the finishing touches on its NCAA tournament resume ahead of conference tournament season, crushing the Aggies in Logan by 60 points, 104-44.

“UNLV is a very, very good basketball team," head coach Kayla Ard said. "They’re very experienced. They’re very well-coached. They’re hard to guard… they’re a lot better than us right now.”

The Rebels finished off a record of 27-2 (17-1) while Utah State fell to a disappointing 5-24 (2-16) on the year with the loss.

The first quarter went about as expected, with UNLV hurrying to an early and decisive lead. Time and time again, college basketball has proven to be unpredictable, and shown that even the most unexpected team can topple a titan now and again. Particularly when the calendar turns over the the month of March, college basketball is eager to show how weird and chaotic it can be.

The Rebels, however, were on high alert. As they have all year long, they played hard, smart basketball, resisting any temptation to toy with their lesser opponent. Without any nonsense, they earned a 21-11 lead at the quarter break.

Then, UNLV simply walked away. It put a football score on the board, claiming the period 28-3 and taking a 49-14 edge into the half. For Utah State, the second frame was utterly zombie-like. Totally unable to keep up with the Rebels, Utah State just wandered, pacing up and down the court almost aimlessly.

For 10 straight minutes, the Aggies flailed. They took, and missed, 11 shots from the field. They scored only three points, all from free throws. UNLV, meanwhile, went 13 of 19 from the field in the quarter, dominating every statistical category on the board – not that the bar was especially high. Utah State grabbed just two rebounds in the frame, and beyond the shot attempts, it hardly logged any stats. The Aggies effectively were not involved in the game, despite being one of two teams on the floor. They had two turnovers, drew four fouls and gave three to go with the rebounds and points. They did nothing else.

If you aren’t sure what you would say to the team after that, you aren’t alone. Even Ard admitted that it wasn’t easy to find the words to use at halftime.

“I told them to go out and play for pride," Ard said. "Have pride in what they’re doing and the jersey that they’re wearing… It’s a hard halftime speech.”

The deficit was almost comically insurmountable. Despite the surety of another loss, the team emerged from halftime ready for another half of basketball. To their credit, they gave the Rebels an honest 20 minutes of basketball. The team managed to rattle off 13 points in the quarter, though they still couldn't keep the Rebels off the board, surrendering 29 on the defensive end. After three quarters of basketball, the Aggies slid to a 51-point shortfall.

UNLV spent the final frame tinkering with different lineups and getting reps for the Mountain West tournament. Utah State continued to do... whatever it was doing, which bore out with a 6-of-15 shooting performance from the field and another period spent behind on the scoreboard, 26-17. Finally, after 40 minutes of excruciatingly lopsided basketball, the buzzer excused the teams. When the dust settled, the Aggies were left holding a 60-point loss, falling 104-44.

Desi-Rae Young did her job quickly and efficiently for UNLV, needing only 14 minutes to leave her mark on the game. She had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting and two rebounds. Nneka Obiazor came off the bench and scored a team-high 16 points along with seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. Joining Obiazor off the bench were Amarachi Kimpson and McKinna Brackens, who each added 14 points. Kimpson also had two rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Brackens added six rebounds and four assists.

Alyssa Durazo-Frescas did exactly what she is wont to do, scoring nine points while working exclusively from behind the arc. She was 3 of 5 from deep and didn’t attempt a single shot from inside the perimeter. She grabbed seven rebounds, two assists and two steals, too.

With a hat trick from behind the arc, Livia Knapp led the Aggies in scoring with nine points. She also nabbed two rebounds and an assist. Tiairra Hill-Brown stepped up and had eight points on the night to trail Knapp. Cheyenne Stubbs was right behind that with seven points, all of which came in the first half as she sat out for the entirety of the fourth quarter. The rest of the starters found similar struggles. Despite the low-scoring performance, Stubbs still led the starters, as the starting five had only 24 points.

All eyes now turn to the tournament… and beyond. Utah State, the 11-seed, will face Boise State, the 6-seed. Awaiting the winner of that game are the third-seeded Pokes of Wyoming. Beyond that, for Utah State, the future is unclear. Offseasons have been far from kind to the Aggies in recent years, with what almost has to be the highest rate of roster attrition in the MWC.

The team's priority now is to prepare for Las Vegas, but with the offseason barreling toward the team, questions will arise that call for answers – after all, Utah State is 24-89 in four seasons under Ard's direction, with a 10-62 mark in MWC play and three last-place finishes. Utah State can prolong those questions for as long as it prolongs 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.