The Nevada Women’s Basketball team returned home on Jan. 31 to play against the Utah State Aggies, hoping to regain their momentum from January but failed, losing to Utah 65-62.
The Wolf Pack came into the Jan. 31 game following a tough defeat to in-state rival UNLV on Jan. 27. The Pack’s opponent, the Utah State Aggies, were winless in conference play coming into Lawlor.
The Wolf Pack got off to a hot start, taking a 12-2 lead after an Izzy Sullivan, Nevada guard, three-pointer. Sullivan connected on another three shortly after to extend the lead to 15-4. However, Utah State’s leading scorer Cheyenne Stubbs, guard, would score a quick four points to cut the deficit to seven before the end of the first quarter.
Starting off the second quarter, Sullivan hit yet another three to make it a 19-9 game. Unfortunately for Sullivan, it was the last three-pointer she would make on the night. Following a block by Samiana Sumuturaga, Utah State forward, Macy Smith, Utah State guard, made a three-pointer to make it 19-14 with 7:06 remaining in the half.
Audrey Roden, Nevada guard, would respond with her own 5-0 run, featuring an assist by Sullivan on a three-point shot. A free throw by Kennedy Lee, Nevada forward, put Nevada up 25-14 matching their largest lead of the night. It wouldn’t last long though, as a hook shot by Bridget Mullings, Utah State forward, and a three-pointer from Stubbs assisted by Mullings, would cut the lead to six at 25-19.
The final minutes of the half were hectic, with multiple turnovers that found the Pack up 30-25 with only six seconds to go. But, just like in the first quarter, Stubbs would score late, beating the buzzer with a layup to cut Nevada’s lead to 30-27 at the half.
After back to back three second violations by each team to start the third quarter, Victoria Davis, Nevada guard, broke through Utah State’s full court press with a three-point shot to give Nevada a 33-30 lead at the 7:45 mark. Soon after, a fastbreak layup by Sullivan put Nevada up five, before a quick 5-0 run by the Aggies forced a Nevada timeout down 35-36.
The teams would trade baskets, with Stubbs going to work again with a crossover and jumpshot, before Nevada took back the lead 43-38 thanks to Dymonique Maxie, guard, and Lexie Givens, forward.
Nevada’s play started to fall apart in the fourth quarter, beginning with a tough four point play by Smith, making the three-pointer plus the and-1 free throw. Nevada let the Aggies score two more times after Smith’s play, and the team found itself down 46-43 with 7:33 left.Givens broke the scoring drought for the Pack and the teams were soon tied up again at 46 with 6:44 to go.
Stubbs swung the momentum in favor of Utah State midway through the fourth. Hitting tough shot after tough shot, while going on her own 7-0 run, Stubbs lead her team to a 55-49 lead, one the Aggies would not lose for the rest of the game.A three-pointer by Davis cut the deficit to one for the Pack, but they could not get any closer as free throws eventually put Utah State up 61-54. The Pack would make a late 6-2 run but ran out of time, losing 65-62 and dropping them to 5-4 in conference play.
“I thought they were the more aggressive team,” Amanda Levens, head coach of the Nevada women’s basketball team, said in a press conference after the game. “We were not very good against their zone, even though we had been practicing against it.”
The Wolf Pack only shot 34.9% from the field and 61.1% from the free throw line. While they did force 24 turnovers, they were also out rebounded 44-33.
“I feel like turnovers were a big thing, we just gotta capitalize on taking care of the ball and making sure we get good shots,” Davis said. “It’s the little things: boxing out, second chance points, just taking care of the ball, making sure that we don’t let teams get air.”
Sullivan finished as Nevada’s leading scorer with 15 points, while Givens had nine rebounds. Roden led the team in assists with seven. Nevada had a poor shooting night, much like against UNLV, finishing 34.9% from the field and 61.1% from the free throw line.
Stubbs had a career high 32 points for Utah State, leading her team to their first win since November 25. Utah State as a whole shot 44% from the field and out rebounded Nevada 44-33.
“It’s really hard, especially because we came off a bad loss on Saturday,” Roden said. “[Utah State] built some confidence early in the third quarter and just kept that rolling through the end of the game. And we didn’t have a tough enough response to that.”
Next up for the Nevada women’s basketball team is a quick, two game road trip, starting with the Wyoming Cowgirls on Feb. 3 at 1 p.m.
Andrew Maples can be reached via email email@example.com or via Twitter @TheBigCountry14