Aggie women upend UNLV, win fourth straight

Guards TaHara Williams and LaCale Pringle-Buchanan netted career-highs of 18 points each to lead Utah State to a season-high scoring outing in a 78-70 win over UNLV at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in women’s basketball action Saturday afternoon.Williams, a senior, and Pringle-Buchanan, a junior, helped the Aggies match their longest win streak since reinstating women’s basketball, with a four-game streak, matching last year. Before that, USU, which discontinued women’s basketball from 1987-2003, hadn’t won four in a row since the 1981-82 season.Utah State finishes non-conference action with an 8-5 record, as the Aggies open up Western Athletic Conference action next week at Louisiana Tech. UNLV leveled its ledger at 7-7, losing two of its last three games. Saturday was just the Lady Rebels’ second road loss in six games. Additionally, Saturday was just the second-ever win over UNLV by Utah State, and the Aggies are now 2-14 all-time against the Lady Rebels, snapping a 14-game losing streak since USU’s only other win, back in 1974. Saturday was just the second meeting between the teams since USU’s reinstatement, facing off last season at Las Vegas, Nev., with UNLV winning, 84-79.The 78 points scored by Utah State Saturday was a season-high, as the Aggies improved to 3-0 when topping 70 points and 6-0 now when scoring 60 or more points. It was the most points scored by USU since a 90-82 OT loss to LA Tech on Jan. 10, 2009 and the most points scored in a victory since Dec. 22, 2007 when the Aggies beat Saint Mary’s, 81-60.Utah State shot 35.3 percent (24-of-68) from the field, marking the first time this season that the Aggies have shot less than 40 percent and still won. The USU defense forced 22 UNLV turnovers, improving to 4-1 when forcing 20 or more turnovers by the opposition.Saturday was also the first time this season that the Aggies rallied from a halftime deficit, as they were down 36-34 at the break, improving to 1-2 when trailing at intermission.Williams and Pringle-Buchanan were half of USU’s double-digit scorers, as senior center Lydia Whitehead tallied 14 points and pulled down a team-leading nine rebounds, one board shy of her second double-double in as many games. Junior guard Amber White netted 13 points.UNLV was led by Erica Helms with 16 points while Jamie Smith and Kelli Thompson notched 14 points apiece and Sandrine Nzeukou had nine points and a game-best 10 rebounds.Utah State had a 41-35 rebounding edge, including a season-high 21 on the offensive glass. The Aggies turned the 22 turnovers into 31 points for a 31-11 points off turnovers favor and the USU bench out-scored its counterparts, 28-11. Junior forward Nicole Johnson dished out a game-high and career-best tying five assists, helping USU tie a season-high with 19 assists, as Williams added four helpers. The Aggies were 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) behind the three-point arc and were 23-of-30 (76.7 percent) at the free throw line, was Williams was 9-of-11 while Pringle-Buchanan and Whitehead were 6-of-7 each. Utah State was 12-of-16 at the charity stripe in the final 1:29 of the game to secure the victory, despite not making a field goal in the final 2:51.Utah State opened a 30-20 lead after a three-pointer from the right wing by Pringle-Buchanan at the 5:34 mark of the first half, but that lead evaporated quickly, as a layup by UNLV’s Markiell Styles knotted the score at 30-all with 2:52 on the clock. The Lady Rebels took their first lead of the game with a bank-shot jumper by Allison Holiday, going through the net as the halftime buzzer sounded for a 36-34 UNLV advantage.The Aggies regained the lead in less than a minute into the second stanza after a jumper by White and a free throw by Williams. USU opened a five-point advantage at 45-40 at the 14:55 mark on a pair of free pitch shots by Pringle-Buchanan, but UNLV charged back to open up a 53-49 lead with 10:03 on the clock after a three-point play by Smith. A 7-0 Utah State run regained the lead, as freshman guard T.J. Goddard started the streak with a three-pointer and Williams hit a layup to cap the run for a 56-53 Aggie advantage. The Lady Rebels later took a 59-58 lead on a pair of free throws by Helms, but two Whitehead free throws and a Goddard three-pointer from the left wing gave USU the lead, and the Aggies didn’t let go, hitting their free throws down the stretch to ice the victory.Utah State opens its fifth season of WAC action on Wednesday, Jan. 6, taking on Louisiana Tech at Ruston, La. Wednesday will be the first time that USU has opened league play against LTU, and the Aggies are 1-3 in their four previous WAC openers. USU returns home to the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum to host San Jose State on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. For Utah State women’s basketball ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305, or online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on the “buy/renew tickets” under the “tickets” drop down menu.Utah State continues its Aggie Incentive Plan which allow fans to earn points for attending women’s basketball games. Aggie fans can accumulate points throughout the season and earn prizes like USU water bottles, clothing and a USU women’s team autographed basketball. Attend as many USU women’s basketball games as possible and accumulate points, for a chance to win great prizes!!

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