Utah State women’s basketball earns 70-66 New Year’s Eve win over Air Force

LOGAN, Utah — Utah State women’s basketball (3-4, 1-1 MW) wrapped up the 2020 calendar year with a 70-66 win over Air Force (2-4, 0-1 MW) Thursday afternoon inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum to earn its first win of Mountain West play.

In a close game which stayed within eight points throughout, the Aggies trailed entering the fourth quarter, 60-53. USU held the Falcons to just six fourth quarter points on 1-of-12 shooting from the field, while forcing five turnovers and outrebounding Air Force 13-8 in the final period. Stretching between the third and fourth quarters, sophomore guard Faith Brantley scored nine-straight points for the Aggies, as she scored 13 of her career-high 17 points in the second half while shooting 7-of-9 from the field, 1-of-1 from 3-point range and 2-of-2 at the free throw line on the game. Brantley also tied a career-high with eight rebounds.

“We really wanted this win tonight. We were in the Spectrum for the first time in conference, it was big for us,” said Utah State head coach Kayla Ard. “The girls were definitely prepared and they were locked in all week. We didn’t play great, but at the end of the third quarter we had a very energetic huddle and I thought we just responded very well in the fourth. We held them to six points in the fourth quarter, which was huge, and that was just about heart.”

Junior guard/forward Monique Pruitt also had a career game, coming off the bench to contribute career-highs of 18 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and a 6-of-10 performance at the free throw line before fouling out after 18 minutes of action.

“This win means a lot because the last couple of games we lost were very close games,” Pruitt said. “We just worked hard, we really wanted this game especially at home when we have fans here to cheer us on.”

The Falcons were led by junior forward Riley Snyder who finished the game with 25 points, 22 of which came in the first half.

As a team, Utah State shot 38.7 percent (24-of-62) from the field, 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from 3-point range and 66.7 percent (18-of-27) from the free throw line. Air Force shot 35.8 percent (24-of-67) from the field, while shooting 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from the 3-point line and 52.0 percent (13-of-25) from the charity stripe.

The Aggies will now have one day off before taking on Air Force again in the second part of the two-game series on Saturday, Jan. 2, at 2 p.m., in Logan. The game will be streamed on Mountain West Network. Live stats will be available via Sidearm.

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