WAILUKU, Hawaii -
After two days of practice and community outreach on the island, Utah State women's basketball opened play at the Maui Jim Maui Classic Friday, falling to Montana State, 64-52.
Junior guard Rachel Brewster led the Aggies with 16 points Friday, while sophomore guard Olivia West joined her in double figures with 13. Sophomore guard/forward Shannon Dufficy was the team's leading rebounder, ending the night with eight. Montana State had three players in double figures, led by a team-high 18 points.
With the loss, Utah State falls to 1-5 on the season, while Montana State improves to 5-2.
After Olivia West scored on the Aggies' opening possession, Utah State jumped out a 6-0 lead before Montana State was able to get on the board. Both teams struggled to shoot in the following minutes though, as neither team scored for just over two minutes. Dufficy ended the Aggies' scoring drought, but the Bobcats continued to hang on. With back-to-back 3-pointers, Montana State took the lead in the final minute of the first quarter, up 14-11. Like much of the first quarter, the second had a slow start to it. Brewster made the first layup of the period a minute in, and Montana State wouldn't answer until the 7:35 mark. The Aggies fell prey to several turnovers, losing possession six times before the media timeout. Luckily, the Bobcats had the same struggle, tallying five turnovers of their own. Through the turnovers, neither team was able to score, as the game went another three minutes without a basket on either end of the court. Brewster ended the skid for the Aggies, sandwiching a 6-0 run by Montana State with a 3-point shot. Roles reversed then, as Utah State ended the half on a 7-0 run, holding the Bobcats scoreless for the final 4:08, and tying the score at 20.
Montana State's scoring drought didn't last long into the third quarter, as the Bobcats were first to score out of the break. MSU made its first field goal of the half and went 1-of-2 at the free throw line after a technical foul was called on the USU bench. The Aggies responded well though, tying the score again on a 3-point shot from sophomore guard Eliza West. Back-to-back field goals from Dufficy followed, putting the lead back in USU's favor. The Bobcats answered with a 7-0 run in the final three minutes of the quarter, retaking the lead, 37-35, on a layup in the final seconds.
As the final quarter started, Montana State found an offensive spark, quickly building up its lead. Highlighted by three consecutive 3-point shots, the Bobcats found a double-digit advantage, while holding the Aggies off. A 9-0 run put USU in its biggest deficit of the night before sophomore guard/forward Hailey Bassett got the Aggies back on the board with a pair of free throws. From there, USU went on a 9-1 run of its own, but it wasn't enough to climb back. Montana State answered with one last run, including its 10th 3-pointer of the night. Olivia West and freshman forward Taylor Franson added two last free throws for the Aggies, but the Bobcats secured the victory.
Overall, Utah State shot 39.1 percent (18-of-46) from the field, 33.3 percent (3-of-9) from the 3-point line and 59.1 percent (13-of-22) from the free throw line. Montana State shot 41.8 percent (23-of-55) from the floor, 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from behind the arc and 6.15 percent (8-of-13) from the free throw line.
Utah State will conclude play at the Maui Classic on Saturday, Dec. 2, when it takes on No. 19/21 Oregon State at 10 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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