IRVINE, Calif. -
A late run on the opposing end of the court put a damper on Utah State women's basketball's season-opening contest Friday, as the Aggies fell at UC Irvine, 87-84, with the Anteaters claiming the win on a last-second 3-point shot.
In her first-career start, sophomore guard Olivia West led the Aggies with a career-best 32 points. She is the first Aggie to have a 30-point game since the 2015-16 season, when Funda Nakkasoglu 30 or more in three games. Sophomore guard/forward Shannon Dufficy picked up right where she left off last season, recording a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard/forward Hailey Bassett and junior guard Rachel Brewster also scored in double figures, ending the night with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
UC Irvine was first to score Friday, setting the early tone for the first quarter. Olivia West got things started for the Aggies with a quick 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. The teams traded shots back-and-forth over the next few minutes, before USU took the lead for the remainder of the half on a layup from Eliza West. The Aggies ended the quarter on a 6-0 run and with an 18-14 lead, as Olivia West reached the double-digit mark on a trey and the final points of the period.
Utah State maintained its lead through the majority of the second quarter, but UC Irvine didn't let up. The Anteaters kept on the Aggies, momentarily retaking the lead with two minutes to play. USU responded well with five-straight points to end the half ahead, 33-29.
The second half started much the same way as the first, with Olivia West hitting from deep for her fourth 3-point shot of the night. The Aggies did a good job of capitalizing on UC Irvine turnovers, with Olivia West converting one into her 20th point and a new career-high. Utah State found its first double-digit lead just before the third quarter media stop, on a jumper from Bassett. The Anteaters found an offensive spark late in the quarter behind a pair of 5-0 runs and were able to pull back within two points. The teams combined for five turnovers in the last two minutes of the quarter, but USU built its lead back up to a 59-54 advantage.
The physicality of the game continued through the fourth quarter, as both teams kept their top-performing players in despite foul trouble. A 13-2 run spurred the Aggies to their biggest lead of the night. Through that run, Dufficy reached the double-double mark, the sixth of her career. Both Olivia and Eliza West fouled out in a 10-second span, while the Anteaters embarked on a 14-1 run. With just 42 seconds left on the clock, UC Irvine pulled within one point, then tying the score at 82 with the and-one shot. Freshman guard Emmie Harris put the Aggies back ahead with a pair of free throws, but the Anteaters evened the score once again with nine seconds left. After turnovers on both ends, UC Irvine let up the last-chance shot from the behind the arc. The shot went in and was called good after an official review, giving the Anteaters the late victory.
Overall, Utah State shot 50.9 percent (29-of-57) from the field, 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from the 3-point line and 69.2 percent (18-of-26) from the free throw line. UC Irvine shot 40.3 percent (31-of-77) from the floor, 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from behind the arc and 84.2 percent (16-of-19) from the free throw line.
Utah State returns to Logan now to prepare for its home opener. The Aggies will host Dixie State on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Noon.
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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