Utah State Pulls Away Late Against Utah Tech, Remain Undefeated

Dec 1, 2022, 9:13 PM | Updated: 9:19 pm
USU senior forward Taylor Funk dunks against Santa Clara at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Monday, November 14.

LOGAN, Utah – Steven Ashworth’s seven three’s and Taylor Funk’s 20 points led Utah State to their sixth straight win, an 86-81 triumph over Utah Tech.

The Trailblazers (3-5) made the long drive north to take on the Utah State Aggies (6-0) at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah.

This was Utah State’s first game action since a 95-85 win over Oral Roberts nine days ago. Utah Tech dispatched of the Cal State Fullerton Titans in a 66-60 home win on Saturday, November 26.

Ashworth led the Aggies with 25 points, playing 32 minutes off the bench after Rylan Jones left with an injury in the opening minutes. Dan Akin chipped in 15 points off the bench. Max Shulga finished with 10 as four Aggies scored in double-figures.

Cameron Gooden led the Trailblazers with 29 points, scoring only nine points in the second half. Dancell Leter (17) and Noa Gonsalves (15) were the other Trailblazers to top 10 points,

First Half

USU looked out of sync to begin the game, showing a little rust after nine-day break.

The Aggies were a step slow defensively, a moment late with their passes and the shots were a hair off as Utah Tech opened up an early 7-4 advantage before the first break.

The first media timeout came early when USU point guard Rylan Jones appeared to take an elbow to the head or neck area. The hit sent him to the floor for several minutes. Jones did not return after being helped off the court.

The Aggies didn’t make their second field goal until Funk knocked down a transition three to tie it up at seven at the 14:43 mark.

Leter answered Funk’s shot with a jumper of his own, staking the Trailblazers to their third early lead, 9-7.

Midway through the half, the defenses led the way as Utah Tech was 4-of-11 (36.4 percent) and the Aggies were 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) in the opening ten minutes.

Back-to-back three’s from the Trailblazers Gooden knocked the lid off the basket for both teams. Gooden hit a second three moments later, becoming the first player to reach double-figure scoring.

After Ashworth’s second three of the half, Gonsalves gave the Trailblazers a 22-20 lead when he answered with a three on the other end.

Successive Aggie triples gave USU a 26-24 lead. That lead was short-lived as Gooden tied it with a driving layup on the next possession.

After Dan Akin gave USU a lead with two free throws, Gooden continued his hot-shooting, knocking down a mid-range jumper to give the Trailblazers a 31-30 lead.

A pair of buckets in the paint and two Max Shulga free throws had the Aggies leading 36-33 with the ability to play for the final shot of the half. USU ran a great play, freeing Funk for an open look, but Funk’s miss caromed away.

The Trailblazers came down with the rebound with enough time for Gooden to attempt a half-court three. In a mental lapse, Funk fouled Gooden on the half-court heave.

Gooden knocked down all three free throws, giving him a game high 20 points and tying the score at 36.

Funk’s 12 points led the Aggies at the half. Ashworth was the only other Aggie in double-figures with 11.

Second Half

Out of the break, the Trailblazers opened up a five point lead, the largest advantage of the night for either squad.

USU responded with a 7-0 run of their own to retake the lead, 43-41, and force a timeout.

Out of the timeout, Utah Tech turned the ball over and Ashworth took advantage. He hit a baseline jumper to make it a nine point Aggie run and give USU a 45-41 lead.

UTU refused to go away, pulling off a quick 5-0 run to re-take the lead.

Both team would go into an extended cold-stretch as USU went 0-for-2 with three turnovers and Utah Tech went scoreless for nearly three minutes as the score remained tied at 50.

After Utah Tech took a 52-50 lead on two free throws from Gonsalves, RJ Eytle-Rock hit a gigantic three from the left wing that gave USU a 53-52 lead. Shulga then hit a transition layup to give the Aggies a three point lead.

Ashworth then hit his sixth three of the game, giving USU their largest lead at 58-52.

On the Trailblazers next possession, Ashworth picked up his fourth foul and was forced to the bench with nine minutes remaining.

With Ashworth on the bench, Funk took over.

After knocking down a corner three off of an out of bounds play, Funk reached in and knocked the ball away from Gonsalves, before diving on the loose ball to force the Trailblazers 15th turnover of the night.

Funk then found Akin all alone under the basket for a dunk to cap the stellar sequence for the first-year Aggie. Akin’s dunk gave USU a 65-57 lead.

With the Aggies in front by ten, the Trailblazers used a 5-0 run to cut the advantage to 67-62.

Zee Hamoda stopped the fun with an elbow jumper.

On the other end, Hamoda showed his length and quick-leaping ability when he met Gooden at the rim, rejecting the dunk attempt in a beautiful display of athleticism,

USU went into the final timeout with a 74-67 lead.

Utah Tech would get no closer than five from that point on as the Aggies improved to 6-0 with an 84

Up Next

Utah Tech will stay in the northern portion of the state as they travel to Ogden, Utah where they will take on the Weber State Wildcats at the Dee Events Center on Saturday, December 3. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MDT)

USU heads to northern California where they are scheduled to face the San Francisco Dons at the Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors, on Sunday, December 4. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m (MDT).

Coverage of Utah State University Athletics from KSL Sports can be found here. 

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

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Utah State Pulls Away Late Against Utah Tech, Remain Undefeated