The Utah State Women’s Basketball team had their conference tournament run come to an abrupt end Tuesday night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the Aggies lost to UNLV 68-43.
Sophomore Rachel Brewster had 11 points and six rebounds to lead the Aggies while freshman Shannon Dufficy contributed 10 points of her own. The Aggie offense was unable to find much traction, however, as UNLV employed a brutally effective fullcourt press which collected 13 steals en route to forcing 17 turnovers from the Aggies.
Freshman Eliza West again attempted to play through what was later confirmed to be a broken hand, but was removed from the game after reaggravating the injury in the first half.
“We were severely handicapped, we couldn’t handle the ball,” head coach Jerry Finkbeiner said following the game. “A good team will seize upon a weakness and exploit it and UNLV did a very good job with the pressure on our ball handlers.”
On the other side of the court, the game was defined by UNLV raining fire from beyond the 3-point line. UNLV entered the game shooting less than 30 percent from three, prompting Utah State to run a 2-3 defense to dare the Rebels into shooting from long range. The Rebels went on to finish the game shooting 45.5 percent from three, being led by Brooke Johnson who finished with an efficient 17 points that included shooting 5-6 from 3.
“We really tried to keep doing what we normally do… and obviously it was tough,” Brewster said. “UNLV did a good job of exploiting our weakness and they had a pretty defense tonight.”
In her final game in an Aggie uniform, Antoina Robinson finished with two points and seven rebounds, as well as two blocks on the defensive end. Sophomore Katie Toole added seven points from the bench.
The loss ends a season that involved many eclipsed expectations. The Aggies were originally selected to finish ninth in the Mountain West, but ended the year sixth in the conference, the highest finish for the Aggies in the MWC.
“I’m proud of our team. We had a good year,” Finkbeiner said. “We thought we were going to win tonight.”
The loss aside, the future does look bright for the Aggies. Barring any transfers, the Aggies return much of the contributors from this year’s squad. Robinson is the sole rotation player graduating over the offseason, meaning the Aggies will be returning their top four scorers next season.