Wolf Pack women rally but fall to Utah State in 2OT thriller

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LOGAN, Utah – Despite 30 points from senior Terae Briggs, the Nevada women’s basketball team dropped a thrilling 79-76 double overtime battle at Utah State to open Mountain West action.

The Wolf Pack (4-8, 0-1 MW) trailed for most of the game, only leading for 4:19 of the 50 minutes of play. However, the Pack rallied from down 15 points at the 3:43 mark of the third quarter to march back into the game and force overtime. A 3-pointer by freshman Essence Booker with 3:33 left in the third sparked the beginning of the battle back into contention. Nevada cut the deficit to eight after a layup by freshman Imani Lacy with under a minute remaining in the period, but the Aggies (6-6, 1-0 MW) added a point at the foul line to take a nine-point lead into the fourth.

Nevada kept steady as the fourth quarter began, slowly but surely chipping away at the Utah State lead. The Pack started to make some noise at the 6:17 mark when junior Kristin Dearth knocked down a long jumper that made it a five-point game. Things really got interesting after four consecutive made free throws by Nevada cut the Aggies’ lead to just one point with 4:55 still on the clock.

Utah State had a bit of a spurt to push its lead back out to four, but a pair of free throws by senior Jade Redmon sparked a 6-0 run for the Pack that gave it the lead for the first time since the first quarter. USU’s Steph Gorman halted the run with a 3-point basket though that put the Aggies in the lead once again with 1:20 on the clock. After the Pack missed a shot on its next possession, Utah State tried to put the game away but missed. Briggs grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the play sending her to the line with 37 seconds left. She hit 1-of-2, tying the game at 60. The Aggies potential game-winning shot with 12 seconds left was blocked by Briggs, giving the Pack a chance at the win. Nevada got the shot it wanted, with Booker attempting a wide open 3-pointer for the win, but the ball rimmed in and out, sending the game to overtime.

The first overtime period was back and forth as both teams would answer the other with a basket of their own on the other end. The Pack and Aggies found themselves tied at 64 until USU’s Shannon Dufficy broke the tie at the 2:40 mark, giving Utah State a two-point lead. Briggs answered though 17 seconds later, knocking down her second triple of the game and putting the Pack ahead by one. But the Aggies had an answer of their own at the 1:00 mark, breaking the tie once more.

Trailing by two with 35 seconds to go, Booker heaved up a 3-pointer, grabbed her own rebound and got the putback to fall, tying the score at 69. A missed 3-point attempt on the other end by the Aggies gave possession back to Nevada, again with a chance at the win as time expired. The Pack got the look it wanted with Booker as the go-to shooter, but her layup attempt at the buzzer rolled off the front of the rim and sent the game into a second overtime.

The Aggies had control of most of the second overtime period, but that didn’t stop the Wolf Pack from fighting until the end. Utah State secured a five-point advantage with just 1:20 on the clock, but that was quickly taken away after two free throws by Redmon. As time ticked to under a minute to play, a crucial turnover by Utah State gave the ball back to Nevada with 32 seconds on the clock. Redmon quickly scored to make it a one-point game with 21 seconds to go.

Needing to foul, the Pack sent USU’s Olivia West to the line where she hit both free throw attempts and pushed the lead back out to three. Nevada did its part again offensively as Briggs hit a layup with 12 seconds left to cut it to one. On the other end, Utah State hit a couple of important free throws to get the lead back to three with eight seconds remaining. With a chance to tie the game and send it into a third overtime, Booker’s 3-point attempt came up just short.

Briggs led all scorers with a career-high 30 points and added 12 rebounds to post her sixth double-double of the season. She was near perfect from the free throw line, hitting 12-of-14. Booker and Redmon each contributed 11 points. For Booker it marked her first game in double figures since Nov. 23 and for Redmon she continued her streak of scoring in double figures, up to nine games now.

Nevada continues Mountain West play this Saturday, Jan. 5 when it hosts New Mexico at 2 p.m.

Postgame notes
-Nevada falls to 4-8 overall and begins Mountain West play 0-1 after falling just short in a 79-76 double overtime game at Utah State.
-The Wolf Pack trailed by 15 points at the 3:43 mark of the third quarter, fighting back in the fourth and outscoring the Aggies 19-10 to force overtime.
-Senior Terae Briggs recorded a career-high 30 points and added 12 rebounds to post her sixth double-double of the year, which leads the conference. Briggs was 12-of-14 from the free throw line and 2-of-2 from beyond the arc.
-Senior Jade Redmon scored 11 points in the game and has reached double figures in all nine games in which she has played this year. She fell two rebounds shy of her first career double-double.
-Freshman Essence Booker reached double figures for the first time since Nov. 23 with 11 points, her third game in double digits this season.
-Nevada won the rebounding battle, 48-45.
-Freshman Da’Ja Hamilton dished out a career-high five assists.
-Jade Redmon now needs 53 points to reach 1,000 in her collegiate career.
-Nevada is now 4-1 in overtime games under Amanda Levens.
-The all-time series between Nevada and Utah State is now 17-12 in favor of the Aggies.