LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State women's basketball got back in the win column Saturday as the team picked up a down-to-the-wire win over Air Force, topping the Falcons, 57-55.
Sophomore guard Olivia West was the leading scorer for the Aggies with 15 points, but was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Eliza West and junior guard Rachel Brewster with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Air Force also had three players in double digits, with Emily Conroe leading all scorers with 23 points.
Utah State snapped a five-game losing streak Saturday, improving to 6-21 overall and 4-12 in Mountain West play. Air Force falls to 3-24 on the year and 3-13 in league action.
There was a very back-and-forth feel to the game early on, as the teams traded baskets. The Aggies gained a little bit of traction with five-straight points over a three-minute stretch. After that run was broken up by an Air Force layup, but Utah State had the final say of the quarter on an old-fashioned three-point play from Eliza West in the last seconds. With that boost, Utah State ended the first quarter with a 20-12 lead.
The Aggie success continued through the first possessions of the second quarter, as the team put up back-to-back layups to double-up on the Falcons. Utah State was held without a basket for another 90 seconds, where Air Force was able to add four points in that stretch. The Aggie defense then held the Falcons scoreless for the next three minutes, maintaining their double-digit lead until the 1:35 mark, when Air Force hit a 3-point shot. Eliza West and Olivia West combined for the final five points of the half, giving the Aggies a 35-21 lead at the break.
Utah State had a slower start in the second half, as the Falcons held the Aggies to three points before the media timeout. Junior center Deja Mason opened the quarter with a layup, but Air Force answered with an 8-0 run, all from one player. Redshirt sophomore guard Victoria Price hit Utah State's first field goal in nearly five minutes at the 3:43 mark, as the Aggie defense held the Falcons scoreless for the next three minutes. The last 90 seconds of the quarter were spent at the free throw line, where Air Force chipped away at its deficit. Olivia West was fouled on a 3-point shot, hitting all three free throws and securing the 43-37 Aggie lead at the end of the quarter.
The limited scoring roles reversed in the fourth quarter. The Falcons were first to score with a shot from 3-point range, but the Aggies quickly answered with six points. Another trey from Air Force followed, but by the 6:07 mark, Utah State had rebuilt its lead to double-figures. Conroe hit her third 3-point shot of the quarter to end the scoring drought for the Falcons, sparking a 9-0 run and pulling within a point. With a layup and a forced turnover, Air Force had possession and the chance for the lead with a minute left. Olivia West hit two free throws for the first Aggie points in nearly six minutes. The Aggies fouled the Falcons on a 3-point attempt, with the shooter hitting all three free throws to tie the score at 55. On Utah State's final possession, Eliza West hit a layup to put the Aggies back on top with just over a second remaining. Air Force tried to make one last play after USU's final timeout, but couldn't get the shot in and gave the Aggies the win.
Overall, Utah State shot 32.2 percent (19-of-59) from the floor, 0-of-5 from the 3-point line and 86.4 percent (19-of-22) from the free throw line. Air Force shot 37.5 percent (18-of-48) from the field, including 37.5 percent (6-of-16) from behind the arc, and was 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line.
The Aggies will wrap-up the 2017-18 regular season next week, beginning with a home game against San José State on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. The team will then head to Las Vegas to play at UNLV on Friday, March 2, at 8 p.m. (MT).
Fans can follow USU women's basketball on Twitter, @USUWBasketball, on Instagram, @USUWBasketball, as well as on Facebook, at /USUWBB. Aggie fans can also follow Utah State Athletics on Twitter, @USUAthletics, on Instagram, @USUAthletics and on Facebook at /USUAthletics.
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