LOGAN, UtahUtah State women’s basketball (4-4, 2-1 MW) opened up the 2021 calendar year by completing a series sweep over Air Force (2-5, 0-2 MW), winning 61-55 Saturday afternoon inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. 

 With a tie game with 33 seconds remaining, USU sophomore guard Faith Brantley hit a corner 3-pointer play following a timeout to put the Aggies up, 58-55. Utah State then came up with a defensive stop on the other end and hit three free throws down the stretch to clinch the victory.

 Junior forward Bre Mathews led all Aggies in scoring and rebounding in what was her second-career start, going for 15 points and a career-high nine rebounds, six of which were offensive. Mathews also recorded an assist and a steal, while shooting 7-of-15 from the field and 1-of-2 at the charity stripe in 29 minutes of action.

 “Faith hit that three that iced the game, and that was such a huge shot for us,” said Utah State head coach Kayla Ard. “It wasn’t the shot we were looking for right there, but Air Force took away the shot that we were looking for, and the fact that she had the confidence to knock that down was just so huge. She’s worked so hard on her 3-point game and I love her confidence. I’m also so proud of Bre. She fought through some things and played a lot of minutes this game. I know she was exhausted.”

 Utah State earned its first sweep over a conference opponent since the 2018-19 season and matched its conference win total from last season just three games into MW play. Air Force’s 55 points scored was the fewest by a Utah State opponent this season, and the second-fewest in a game by the Falcons this season. Neither team ever led by more than eight points in the series.

 “This game meant a lot,” Mathews said. “Coach has been saying that we need to get to .500, and we took that very seriously. We knew we’ve got to come out, we’ve got to play hard and we’ve got to be the tougher team. Our team is coming together every day.”

 The Falcons were led by junior forward Riley Snyder who finished the game with 18 points, 16 of which came in the first half.

 As a team, Utah State shot 37.9 percent (22-of-58) from the field, 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from 3-point range and 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from the free throw line. Air Force shot 25.0 percent (16-of-64) from the field, while shooting 26.9 percent (7-of-26) from the 3-point line and 69.6 percent (16-of-23) from the charity stripe. 

 The Aggies remain at home to take on New Mexico (5-0, 2-0 MW) next week in a two-game series with contests on Thursday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 9, at 2 p.m., in Logan. Both games will be streamed on the Mountain West Network. Live stats will be available via Sidearm.

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