Utah State women’s basketball celebrates Senior Night with win over Air Force (with photo gallery)

LOGAN, Utah – With a 64-40 win over Air Force Tuesday, Utah State women’s basketball closed the home portion of the 2015-16 season. The game was the last action in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for the team’s three seniors, Julianne Anchling, Tijana Djukic and Mariah Miles.

In Tuesday’s action, the Aggie defense held Air Force to shooting 20.3 percent (12-of-59) from the floor, a season-low for any Utah State opponent. The victory was the largest scoring margin in the Aggies’ favor of the conference season, just shy of the season-best 27-point win over Haskell.

Sophomore guard Funda Nakkasoglu was the leading scorer for the Aggies, notching 20 points on the night. Freshman guard Rachel Brewster joined her in double figures with 14 points, while adding eight rebounds. Djukic was the top rebounder for USU, with 13 on the night. Cortney Porter led the Falcons with 17 points.

With the win, Utah State improves to 13-15 on the year with an 8-9 record in Mountain West play. Those eight wins match the most conference wins the Aggies have had since the 2013-14 season, the team’s first year in the Mountain West. The Aggies close the year with a 7-7 record in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Air Force falls to 1-27 on the year and 1-16 in league action with the loss.

With another change in the starting lineup, the three graduating Aggies were all included in the starting five. In her second-career start, Miles put the Aggies on the board with her second made field goal of the season. Despite the early basket, it was a bit of a slow start in action, as the Aggies led, 6-4, at the media timeout. Shooting free throws out of the break, Air Force tied the score, while Porter, a Utah native, hit a 3-point shot for the Falcons to take their first lead of the night. Brewster hit a final shot for the Aggies to end the quarter, but the Falcons maintained the lead, up 15-14.

Starting the second quarter the way she ended the first, Brewster momentarily put the lead back in USU’s favor, but another Air Force trey switched it back. Brewster then hit double figures on the night with a jumper to tie the game at 18. A 10-0 run for the Aggies held the Falcons scoreless for more than four minutes and built an eight-point lead for Utah State. Another scoring drought and poor shooting streak for Air Force in the final minutes of the quarter secured the midway advantage for the Aggies. With a 3-pointer at the buzzer, Nakkasoglu sent Utah State into the halftime break up, 33-22.

In the first three minutes of the third quarter, the only points came from a pair of Aggie free throws. The Falcons hit one 3-pointer four minutes into the half, but were then held without a basket for 4:38, while USU went on a 9-0 run and built its largest lead of the night to that point. After hitting 4-of-5 from the field, Utah State committed four turnovers without scoring over a 3:44 period. The skid was snapped with a set of free throws from Nakkasoglu, as the quarter ended with a 46-28 lead for the Aggies.

While the Falcons made the first two shots of the fourth quarter, the Aggie defense responded, holding Air Force without a bucket for 3:54. The Falcons made a pair of free throws to get back in scoring mode, but Utah State had found a 22-point lead in the meantime. Air Force ended the game hitting just 1-of-14, while the senior class played its final minutes and secured the 64-40 victory.

Overall, Utah State shot 44.6 percent (25-of-56) from the field, 22.2 percent (2-of-9) from the 3-point line and 63.2 percent (12-of-19) from the free throw line. Air Force shot 20.3 percent (12-of-59) from the field, 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from behind the arc and 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from the free throw line.

Utah State will play the final regular season game of the season on the road, playing at Fresno State on Friday, March 4 at 8 p.m. (MT). The team will then await the seeding and matchup announcements for next week’s Mountain West Championship.

Tickets for the 2016 Mountain West Championship are now available by contacting the Utah State Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the “Buy Tickets” tab at www.utahstateaggies.com. The tournament will be held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, March 7-12.

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.


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