Utah State women’s basketball drops tight game at UNLV Wednesday

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – In a low-scoring game on both ends of the court, Utah State women’s basketball fell to UNLV on the road in a 46-38 game Wednesday.

Sophomore guard Funda Nakkasoglu was the leading scorer for the Aggies with 10 points on the night. Just behind her was freshman guard Katie Toole with eight points, making her first start since the Idaho State game. Toole was the leading rebounder for the Aggies, tallying six boards. Dakota Gonzalez led UNLV with 19 points, while Nikki Wheatley added 11.

Wednesday’s game was the lowest-scoring game for the Aggies since Dec. 15, 2007, when the team scored 38 points. in a loss at Utah. Utah State has now scored 38 points of fewer just eight times in program history. Utah State and UNLV combined for 84 points on the night, the lowest combined score since the Aggies defeated Fresno State, 44-40, on Feb. 24, 2008. Wednesday was just the third time in program history, that both teams scored fewer than 50 points in a Utah State game.

With the loss, Utah State falls to 8-10 on the year and 3-4 in Mountain West action. UNLV improves to 10-7 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

It took three minutes for anyone to score Wednesday night, as the Lady Rebels were finally first on the board with a pair of free throws. Back-to-back 3-pointers from UNLV followed, pushing USU to call the first timeout, down 8-0. Out of the timeout, the Aggies found a spark, scoring seven straight and holding the Lady Rebels to an 0-for-7 stretch. Another UNLV trey ended the drought, but the Aggies got the final points of the quarter with a set of free throws from Nakkasoglu. Despite the slow start, Utah State ended the first quarter with just a one-point deficit, down 10-9.

The slow pace returned at the start of the second quarter, as the Aggies went almost minutes of action without a score. Another pair of free throws ended the skid, while the Lady Rebels also struggled. By the media timeout, UNLV still led, up 13-11. After no one on either team scored for nearly four minutes, a layup from senior forward Tijana Djukic tied the game, heading into the final minute of the half. The Lady Rebels got one basket in before the buzzer, heading into the locker room with the 15-13 advantage. The Aggies shot just 23.5 percent (4-of-17) in the first half, but held the Lady Rebels to 14.3 percent (5-of-35) from the floor.

It took the Aggies just 10 seconds to get the first bucket of the second half, as Toole tied the game. Fouled in the process, Toole missed the and-one, unable to take the lead. Just minutes later, freshman guard Rachel Brewster was fouled on a 3-point attempt. She made 2-of-3 free throws, giving the Aggie their first lead of the night. UNLV took that lead right back, however, going on a 13-2 run and gaining the momentum of the game. With the biggest lead of the night, the Lady Rebels ended the third quarter with a 30-21 advantage.

UNLV got the first shot of the final quarter in, but the Aggies answered with an 8-0 run. The Lady Rebels cut in with a 3-pointer, calling a timeout right after. Nakkasoglu narrowly missed a layup, but was fouled in the process and she capitalized on the free throw attempts to tie the game once again. UNLV got on another run as the quarter wound down, when a free throw from senior forward Julianne Anchling cut into the 8-0 surge. With 18 seconds left, Anchling’s free throw was the final basket for the game.

On the night, Utah State shot a season-low 26.1 percent (12-of-46) from the field, 7.1 percent (1-of-14) from the 3-point line and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line. UNLV shot 21.2 percent (14-of-66) from the field, 26.9 percent (7-of-26) from behind the arc and 73.3 percent (11-of-15) from the free throw line.

Utah State will be back at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum this weekend, playing the first repeat opponent of the Mountain West season. The Aggies host San Diego State on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 2 p.m.

A USU women’s sports pass is available for $75, giving the owner entry to all home volleyball, women’s basketball and gymnastics events. The pass, as well as individual game tickets, are available through the USU Athletics Ticket Office. Fans can find more information by calling (435) 797-0305 or at 1-888-U-STATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) or by visiting the Utah State Athletics website at www.utahstateaggies.com.

Fans can follow USU women’s basketball on Twitter, @UtahStateWBB, on Instagram, @USUWBasketball, as well as on Facebook, at USUWBB. Aggie fans can also follow Utah State Athletics on Twitter.com, @USUAthletics, on Instagram, @USUAthletics and on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.

-USU-

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