USU women’s basketball edges past Air Force for first Mountain West win (with photo gallery)

LOGAN, Utah – Though it came down to the final plays, Utah State women’s basketball earned its first conference win Saturday with a 65-62 home victory over Air Force.

With three players in double figures, Utah State was led by senior forward Antoina Robinson who matched her career-high with 13 points. Joining her in double digits were freshman guard Olivia West with 13 points and sophomore guard Rachel Brewster with 10. The Falcons also had three double-figure scorers, led by 21 points from Mariah Forde. Defensively, freshman forward Shannon Dufficy led the Aggies with seven rebounds. In all, the teams were even at 33 boards apiece.

With the win, Utah State ends the calendar year at 8-5, while starting the conference season a 1-1. The Falcons fall to 2-10 overall and 0-2 in Mountain West play.

The game was close from the beginning as the teams battled through four lead changes and five ties in the first quarter. Air Force took the lead for the last time of the quarter after the media timeout, leading by as many as five. The Aggies had the final say of the quarter though, as freshman guard/forward Hailey Bassett scored with 20 seconds to play. After forcing a turnover and drawing a foul, Utah State had the final possession, but missed a pair of free throws. After one quarter, Air Force held a 20-17 lead.

Air Force was first to score in the second quarter with two early free throws, but the Aggies responded with five quick points to once again tie the score. Brewster gave Utah State its first lead in 10 minutes with two free throws, starting a 9-0 run for the Aggies. The Falcons cut into USU’s lead, but the Aggies were able to lead by as many as 12. Utah State’s strongest quarter of the game ended with a jumper from Dufficy to secure the Aggies’ 40-28 halftime lead. In all, USU out-scored Air Force, 23-8, in the second quarter. Utah State shot 64.3 percent (9-of-11) from the floor in the second quarter, while holding the Falcons to 37.5 percent (3-of-8) shooting.

After the strong second quarter showing, the Aggies struggled to shoot in the third quarter, scoring only nine points. Air Force came out strong, however, quickly cutting into USU’s lead. The Aggies hit four field goals over the third quarter, each coming from a different player. The Falcons continued their scoring streak as Forde ended the quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers. After three, the Aggies maintained their lead, but just by one, up 49-48.

With another trey, Forde put the Falcons back on top at the 8:10 mark of the fourth quarter. That didn’t last long though, as Robinson converted on an old-fashioned three-point play to secure the lead for the final time. As the clock ticked down, Air Force got as close as one point, but could not get back ahead. Freshman guard Olivia West scored the final points of the day with two free throws with four seconds to go. The Falcons had the last possession of the game, but missed a last-chance 3-point shot to give the Aggies the win.

Overall, Utah State shot 40.7 percent (24-of-59) from the field, including 57.1 percent (4-of-7) from the 3-point line, and was 76.5 percent (13-of-17) from the free throw line. Air Force shot 43.4 percent (23-of-53) from the field, 33.3 percent (5-of-15) from behind the arc and 68.8 percent (11-of-16) from the free throw line.

The Aggies return to the road for a pair of conference games next week. Utah State will play at New Mexico on Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m., followed by a game at UNLV on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 5 p.m. (MT).

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

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Posted in USU