Utah State Women’s Basketball vs Fresno St 03/02/22
LOGAN, Utah. – Utah State women’s basketball will head into the 2022 Air Force Reserve Mountain West Women’s Basketball Tournament on a two-game winning streak after the Aggies ended their regular season with a 96-90 overtime victory against Fresno State inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Wednesday.
The 96 points marked a season-high for the Aggies, exceeding the previous best of 85 against Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 13.
Senior guard/forward E’Lease Stafford had her fifth double-double of the season with a season-high 17 points and 11 rebounds. Three other Aggies scored in double figures in junior guard/forward Adryana Quezada with 22 points, senior guard Kaylin Randhawa with 16 and junior guard Shyla Latone with 14. Senior guard Emmie Harris led the Aggies with a game-high-tying seven assists.
“It always feels great to get a win on Senior Day, but I think we really did deserve it so it was good that we won,” Stafford said.
Utah State (10-18, 5-13 MW) came out of the gates hot in the first quarter to take a 12-6 lead with 4:44 on the clock after free throws from Stafford, buckets from senior forward Taylor Franson and a couple of 3s from Harris and Latone. Fresno State (11-17, 7-10 MW) responded with an 11-2 run to close out the period to give the Bulldogs the 17-14 edge heading into the second stanza.
After some back-and-forth to start the second quarter, Fresno State took a 38-28 lead with 3:38 to go. A Stafford free throw and layup, as well as a jumper from Quezada, cut the lead to five at 38-33 with 2:18 remaining. The game continued its back-and-forth as the Aggies trailed 46-40 at the half.
USU slowly chipped away at the Fresno State lead in the third quarter. A Stafford layup and Quezada 3 cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 66-63 with just over a minute to go in the third. However, a couple of Fresno State layups in the final minute pushed the edge out to 70-63 heading into the final period of regulation.
A Fresno State and-1 gave the Bulldogs the 73-63 lead with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Utah State turned around to tie it at 73-apiece after a 10-0 run following layups from Quezada, Randhawa and graduate forward Laci Hawthorne, along with jumpers from Quezada and Latone. A Stafford 3 and Hawthorne free throw gave USU its first lead since the first quarter at 81-77 with 3:34 on the clock. The Bulldogs took back the lead at 81-77 with 2:28 left.
After a missed USU jumper, Stafford blocked a driving layup from Fresno State junior guard Haley Cavinder and collected the rebound. The Aggies missed a 3-point attempt on the other end, but Latone came up with the rebound and made the second-chance jumper in the paint to make it a two-point game at 81-79 with 1:28 left in the fourth. With 26 seconds left on the clock, Randhawa was fouled and sent to the charity stripe where she knocked down both free throws to tie it at 81-each. The Aggie defense held strong in the final seconds to force overtime.
Utah State came out hot in the opening minutes of overtime as USU took an 88-81 lead with 2:54 on the clock after a Randhawa 3, Stafford free throw and an old-fashioned 3-point play from Quezada. Fresno State then cut the lead to 92-90 with 25 seconds remaining. Harris went to the line and made a pair of free throws to push the Aggie lead out to 94-90 with 19 seconds to go.
After a Fresno State timeout to advance the ball, Randhawa came up with the steal on the inbounds play and got the ball to Stafford who drove and was fouled. Stafford made one of the two free throws to extend the Aggie lead to 95-90 with 15 seconds to go. The Bulldogs missed back-to-back 3-point attempts and fouled Stafford with less than a second remaining to send her to the line once more as USU came away with the 96-90 victory.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” head coach Kayla Ard said. “We had some ups and downs in the game. The crowd in here was unbelievable. I’m so glad we were able to send our seniors out like that. It was just all determination in that fourth quarter. It was all heart. It’s a little surreal. I’m a little speechless. I just love the heart and the determination that these girls are going out with. I’ve been saying that we’ve going in this direction, and they’re just peaking right at the right time. Hopefully, we can take this into the tournament. We’ve had two really big wins here. I’m just really happy and proud for them.”
Utah State finished the night shooting 47.1 percent (33-of-70) from the field, 30.0 percent (9-of-30) from behind the arc and 75.0 percent (21-of-28) at the free throw line. Fresno State shot 51.4 percent (38-of-74) from the field, 36.8 percent (7-of-9) from behind the 3-point line and 63.6 percent (7-of-11) from the charity stripe.
Prior to the game, Utah State honored its seven seniors in point guard Manna Mensah, Franson, Harris, Hawthorne, Latone, Randhawa and Stafford.
“It was a great way to send us out as seniors and it just meant a lot to me,” Harris said. “It was just a great team effort. I’m really excited to get the win and it’s so surreal to be my last game here.”
The Aggies and Bulldogs will have a rematch on Sunday, March 6, as the teams square off in the first round of the 2022 Air Force Reserve Mountain West Women’s Basketball Tournament. No. 9-seeded Utah State and No. 8-seeded Fresno State will tip-off at 3 p.m. (MT) inside the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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.