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Utah State women’s basketball: UNLV knocks Aggies out of Mountain West tournament, 68-43

First Published      Last Updated Mar 07 2017 11:33 pm

Las Vegas • The Aggies will have more chances to make a run in the Mountain West Conference tournament. The core of their team will be back for at least two more seasons, and their head coach agreed to a three-year contract extension this week.

Nobody on the Utah State women's basketball team had their focus on the future Tuesday night. Unfortunately for USU fans, the team dug a hole in the first half that it never quite climbed out of in a 68-43 loss to UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center in the Mountain West quarterfinals.

Sophomores Rachel Brewster (11 points) and Shannon Dufficy (10 points) were the only two Aggies to crack double digits in scoring, and Eliza West committed six first-half turnovers before being shut down for the second half due to a nagging hand injury.



UNLV advances to face seventh-seeded Fresno State on Wednesday night in the tournament semifinals.

Utah State and UNLV split their regular-season matchups, the first included an in-game fight which resulted in suspensions on both sides. The Aggies won the most-recent meeting on Senior Day at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan on March 6.

It didn't take long for UNLV to establish that this game wouldn't follow a similar script as their meeting in Logan. In that regular-season loss to the Aggies, UNLV scored 49 points and shot 29 percent from the floor. Tuesday night, UNLV scored 48 points in three quarters.

A trio of junior guards for UNLV led the way offensively. Dakota Gonzalez ( 17 points) and twin sister Dylan Gonzelz (12 points) and Brooke Johnson (17 points) paced the team to their highest scoring output in three games against the Aggies this season.

Brewster scored seven of the team's first nine points, and the Aggies led by three points at the end of the first quarter. The lead changed hands three times in the first two minutes of the second quarter, and then UNLV launched a long-range barrage. Three consecutive 3-pointers from Dylan Gonzalez and Johnson, including back-to-back by Johnson with one from each wing, gave the hosts a 24-17 advantage with 6:06 left before halftime.

The Aggies never regained the lead for the rest of the half. Their failure to take care of the ball (six second-quarter turnovers) and the UNLV 3-pointers (4-for-6 in the quarter) helped create a 10-point halftime deficit for the Aggies. UNLV made slightly less than half its shots (12-for-25) in the first half.

The Aggies played without their starting point guard and the conference's freshman of the year in the second half. West's participation was going to be limited coming due to an hand injury she sustained prior to the tournament. Facing a double-digit deficit after the firs half, they struggled offensively to start the second. The Aggies went 1-for-7 to start the third quarter.

A 10-0 run by UNLV stretched the lead to 45-26 with 4:53 remaining in the third. Dakota Gonzalez scored six third-quarter points after having scored eight in the first half. The Aggies didn't trailed by as many as 26 points in the second half.

lworthy@sltrib.com

Twitter: @LWorthySports

 

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