It brought the careers of seniors Devyn Christensen, Jenna Johnson and Pualei Furtado to a disappointing finish on the heels of a semifinal Western Athletic Conference tournament exit.
"It wasn't the ending of the season we wanted or even imagined,"Utah State coach Jerry Finkbeiner said. "It's almost a carbon copy of six games we've played this year where we lead a close game and lose in the second half."
That was the unfortunate formula for Utah State, which allowed 53 second-half points by South Dakota. The Aggies' defense lapsed after leading by as much as 10 in the first half and 32-24 at the intermission.
"We let them do whatever they wanted defensively," Utah State junior Jennifer Schlott said. "They were getting inside shots, they were hitting 3-pointers. We couldn't stop them."
Utah State's own tight shooting hurt its comeback chances. The Aggies were only 5 of 24 from 3-point range in the contest, well below their hot-shooting average. Christensen, the program's all-time scoring leader, was only 3 of 14 after halftime.
Schlott led with 25 points and eight assists. Johnson, who was nursing a fractured finger, added eight points and 13 rebounds.
Tha Aggies were successful early with a change to a half-court trapping zone. It led to an 18-0 run for Utah State, a nearly eight-minute span when South Dakota couldn't score. But the energy collapsed in the second half.
"We lacked that killer instinct," Finkbeiner said.
The program finished the season with a second-place finish in the WAC and will head to the Mountain West next year. Despite the tepid finale, Johnson said she believed the team will continue to progress.
"This program is on the rise," she said. "It has a lot of potential."
Utah State's season comes to a close in WBI
• Aggies lose to South Dakota, a team they beat earlier in the season
• The Coyotes shoot 65.4 percent in the second half
• Jennifer Schlott leads the team with 25 points and 8 assists