March 12, 2008
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Utah State battled hard but in the end came up short in its upset bid of second-seed Boise State, losing 61-47 Wednesday in the final game of the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament at New Mexico State's Pan American Center.
The seventh-seeded Aggies tried to continue the magic that the seventh-seed carried, as Boise State's win was the first by a second-seed in the last three WAC Tournaments. Rice was the last No. 2 seed to win, in the 2005 Tournament.
Utah State ends its season with a 9-20 record after posting a 5-11 WAC mark during the regular season. Boise State, the co-regular season champion, continues defense of its conference tournament title by advancing to face host and third-seed New Mexico State in Thursday's semifinal round.
Senior guard Jamelah Brown was the only Aggie in double-figures, posting 10 points, while fellow senior, forward Jenny Gross tallied nine to go with a tying junior guard Danyelle Snelgro for team rebounding honors with six each. Gross' six rebounds pushes her career total to 446, ending tied for 10th on USU's Career Rebounds list with former teammate Jessica Freeman (2003-06).
The Aggies' third senior, guard Taylor Richards tallied four points while battling foul trouble all night. Richards did dish out a game-high five assists, adding to her school record as she ends her USU career with 371 assists. Richards also owns the USU Three-Pointers Made record with 91 and came up three steals shy of a piece of her third USU career record finishing second behind Margaret Johns' school record of 175 swipes from 1980-83.
Boise State had three players in double-figures, led by Tasha Harris' 19 points while Jessica Thompson tallied 17 and Jackie Lee added 13. Harris pulled down a game-leading eight rebounds, helping the Broncos to a 40-37 rebounding advantage, including 18 on the offensive glass that led to a 24-10 second-chance points margin.
It wasn't exactly a hot shooting night by either team as Boise State hit 35.0 percent (21-of-60), including 5-of-20 (25.0 percent) from three-point range while Utah State drained 33.3 percent (17-of-51) field goal shooting, making just 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) behind the arc.
At the free throw line, BSU hit 83.3 percent (10-of-12) while USU made 75.0 percent (15-of-20) of its shot at the free pitch stripe.
After leading 17-12, Boise State went on an 11-2 run to take a 28-14 lead, capped by a bucket by Harris at 7:35. The Aggies responded with a 9-0 spurt of their own, as Richards returned to the court after sitting on the bench with foul trouble. Richards sparked the streak with a pair of free throws and Gross capped it with a layup to pull USU within, 28-23.
The Broncos led, 33-28, at the half, but the Aggie defense came out of intermission with a five-minute lockdown on Boise State, not yielding a point while Gross and junior forward Ndoumbe Diop hit layups to pull USU within 33-32. Diop ended the night with seven points.
After the Broncos bucked their way to a 39-32 lead, the Aggies scored five-straight points on a three-pointer by freshman guard Jade Hatchett and a Gross layup, cuing a Boise State timeout. That would be the closest the Aggies would get as the Broncos went on an 11-0 streak, during which Thompson scored seven-straight points, and USU didn't threaten again.
The Aggies return 11 letterwinners from this season's squad, including two starters in Snelgro and Diop.
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