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Aggies falter down stretch against streaking UNLV

staff writer

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 00:01

Franny Vaaulu

Ashley Flygare

JUNIOR FRANNY VAAULU goes up for a shot against a UNLV defender during USU’s loss to the Rebels on Wednesday.

USU dropped its fourth straight game Wednesday to a streaking UNLV team, falling 73-67.

With 49 seconds left in the game, a technical foul was issued to each team following a short confrontation on the court. Stephanie Bairstow hit a free throw to make it a four-point game, leading to a UNLV timeout.

USU’s defense held on the ensuing possession, and a scramble for the ball late in the possession was called under review by the officials ultimately giving the Aggies the ball with 17 seconds left. Two missed layups and a UNLV rebound silenced USU and ended the contest.

“We had a different feel totally to our game tonight,” head coach Jerry Finkbeiner said. “We wouldn’t be 2-4 if we’d played this level of aggression and effort the previous three games.”

UNLV started the game shooting 66 percent from the field, quickly gaining an early 16-6 advantage. Finkbeiner called timeout to stop the bleeding and the Aggies answered with a 7-3 run, forcing the Lady Rebels to call a timeout of their own.

A UNLV turnover and a Jennifer Schlott basket in transition pushed the Aggies to within four, but guard Mia Bell hit the first 3-pointer of the night for either team, keeping USU at bay.

With 8:40 left in the first half, the Aggies found themselves trailing by 10 once again, down 27-17 before Elise Nelson hit a foul-line jumper to end a UNLV run.

A media timeout with 6:40 remaining gave USU time to regroup, still trailing the Lady Rebels by nine. The Aggies responded with a furious run including six-straight points from Schlott to give USU its first lead of the night at 31-30. UNLV finally snapped the run with a 3-pointer from the corner.

The Lady Rebels seized momentum with key 3-pointers in the closing minutes of the half, carrying a 43-33 lead into halftime. UNLV connected from beyond the arc six times in the half, shooting 60 percent while scoring just 14 points in the paint. USU was without a 3-pointer in the opening half, shooting 0-5 from distance — the Aggies would finish the game 0-of-12 from three-point range. UNLV held a slight advantage in total rebounds at the half, leading 19-15.

“They hurt us from the three tonight,” said guard Elise Nelson. “That’s all about just making adjustments, so we’ll learn from that.”

Five minutes into the second half, Jasmine Porter drained a long jumper as USU tried to dig itself out of another deficit, this time down 39-48. A pair of Schlott free throws and back-to-back buckets by Stephanie Bairstow brought the Aggies to within striking distance once again, now trailing 45-49.

With nine minutes remaining in the half, the shootout began. UNLV answered the USU run with a pair of corner threes, but a Nelson layup in transition kept the game close. Despite UNLV shooting 51 percent to USU’s 41 percent, the Aggies stuck with the Lady Rebels with newfound aggressiveness on the boards.

The Aggies tied the game for the second time in the contest at 59-59 after Schlott free throws and a key layup by Ingrida Strikas. A Nelson bucket the following possession gave USU just their second lead of the night, taking a 61-60 advantage.

Both teams traded the lead on the next three possessions, until UNLV free throws gave the Rebels a 68-64 advantage with just 2:40 left in the game. UNLV set up in a zone on the defensive end, leaving USU’s cold shooters open — the Aggies missed two three-pointers on the possession before UNLV recovered.

Trailing 66-70, Schlott drew a charge on the defensive end, giving USU a chance to make it a one-possession game. A costly turnover gave the Lady Rebels the ball, and they raised the lead to five after splitting a pair of foul shots. UNLV would hold the lead the rest of the game.

Jennifer Schlott led all scorers with 24 points. The Aggies grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, totalling 44 overall to UNLV’s 34. The Lady Rebels scorched USU from the arc with 8-of-16 shooting. They also finished shooting 17-of-25 from the foul line, including several late free throws that maintained the lead.

“The girls know that we can beat anybody on a given night. We’ve just got to be more consistent,” Finkbeiner said.

USU fell to 8-9 overall and 2-4 in Mountain West Conference play. The Aggies return to action at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 at San Diego State.

– logantjones@aggiemail.usu.edu
Twitter: @logantj 

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