Utah State women’s basketball battles to the end in 66-65 victory over Arkansas State – Cache Valley Daily

USU vs Arkansas St women’s basketball, 12/08/21

LOGAN, Utah  – With just over two minutes left to play in the second quarter, the Utah State women’s basketball team was suddenly down to just five players.

The Fab Five never quit as the Aggies defeated Arkansas State 66-65 on Wednesday night in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

“I’m so proud of this team’s heart,” head coach Kayla Ard said. “They won’t quit. They won’t give up. They just have so much heart. You should have heard them at halftime in the locker room. The rest of the team was in there. They were so fired up and they knew they weren’t going to lose this game. Even when the odds go against us, we kicked a ball off our leg and it went out of bounds, they won’t quit. They won’t give up. They have so much heart.”

USU (5-3) jumped out to an early 16-6 lead in the first quarter. The Red Wolves (4-6) turned around in the second period to take a 31-29 lead with 2:11 left in the period.

Then things got interesting.

All six Aggies on the bench stepped onto the court during a small jump ball kerfuffle. As a result, all six Aggies were ejected.

And then there were five.

USU was left with senior guard Kaylin Randhawa, senior guard/forward Emmie Harris, junior guard Faith Brantley, junior guard/forward Adryana Quezada and sophomore guard Olivia Wikstrom.

Utah State and Arkansas State went into the halftime break knotted up at 33-all. The Red Wolves opened the third with a 15-2 run to take a 48-35 lead with 5:53 to play in the quarter.

USU responded with a 7-0 run of its own, capped by a Randhawa triple, to trim the lead to 48-42, but Arkansas State held its advantage for a 57-47 lead at the end of the stanza.

It was all Utah State to open the fourth quarter. Wikstrom started things off for the Aggies with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to single-digits, 57-50. USU then stole the ball on three of Arkansas State’s next four possessions and the Aggies capitalized with layups by Randhawa, Quezada and Wikstrom to make it 57-56 with 6:24 to go.

The Red Wolves pushed the lead back out to 63-58 with just under two minutes remaining. Neither team scored again until Randhawa knocked down all three of her free throws to trim it to 63-61 with 53 seconds on the clock. Harris came up with a defensive rebound on the other end of the floor and Randhawa buried a mid-range jumper to tie it up at 63-63. Arkansas State would make two of its next four free throws to hold a two-point advantage, 65-63, with 27 seconds on the clock.

The Aggies had one more chance to steal the outcome.

And Randhawa did.

For the second time this season, the senior guard knocked down a game-winning 3. This time, on her own home court.

Randhawa pulled up well beyond the arc and buried it with 11 seconds to go, which would seal the 66-65 victory.

“I’m still a little in shock,” Randhawa said. “It felt a little unreal with our bench getting ejected in the second quarter, but this team just doesn’t give up. We have so much grit and I love that about us. We went into the locker room tied up and we looked at each other and said, ‘We’re going to win this for each other.’”

Quezada led the team with her second double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 boards, to go along with a career-high-tying five assists. Three other Aggies finished in double figures as Randhawa had 15 points, junior guard Shyla Latone had 11, all of which came in the first half, and Wikstrom had 10. Wikstrom and Harris also registered nine boards each against the Red Wolves.

Utah State ended the night shooting 33.8 percent (22-of-65) from the field, 23.5 percent (8-of-34) from behind the 3-point line and 63.6 percent (14-of-22) at the free throw line. Arkansas State was 39.7 percent (25-of-63) from the field, 32.0 percent (8-of-25) from behind the arc and 53.8 percent (7-of-13) at the charity stripe.

USU will next take on Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 11 a.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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