UTAH STATE AGGIES

Utah State Erases Double-Digit Deficit Against LMU, Improve To 8-0

Dec 11, 2022, 1:15 AM | Updated: 1:16 am
utah-state-guard-max-sulga...
Utah State guard Max Shulga at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum during the 2022-23 season.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State remains undefeated, surviving a scare after falling behind by double-digits early in an eventual 79-67 win over Loyola Marymount.

Utah State (8-0) took on the West Coast Conference’s Loyola Marymount (8-4) in Las Vegas at the Jack Jones Hoops Fest on Saturday, December 10.

The Aggies put together one of their most impressive early season victories when they last stepped on the floor. An 82-64 blowout on a ‘neutral’ court against San Francisco proved Utah State is to be taken seriously this season as they improved to 7-0.

Loyola Marymount has won two straight, running past Nevada 64-52 on December 3 before creeping by Grand Canyon 69-65 earlier this week. Those wins followed an 87-71 loss at USU rival Colorado State.

Max Shulga leg the Aggies with 18 points. Steven Ashworth added 16 while Dan Akin and Sean Bairstow each scored 14. Taylor Funk struggled from the field, scoring just six points. He more than made up for it by grabbing a team high 10 boards.

After scoring 23 first half points, Cam Shelton finished with 25. Julian Anderson was the only other Lion to score in double0figures, finishing with 14.

First Half

Both teams looked out of sync in the opening minutes, combining for three turnovers in the first three minutes before they could settle in.

Cam Shelton tossed in five quick points, adding an assist in the opening four minutes for the Lions.

After replacing Trevin Dorius at the first timeout, Dan Akin made an immediate difference. Akin hit two free throws after drawing a foul on Kwane Marble Ii, giving USU a 9-8 lead.

RELATED: Balanced Utah State Weathers San Francisco Rally, Move To 7-0

Battling through three ties and eight lead changes through the first 10 minutes, the Lions and Aggies were at a near stalemate as LMU led 16-15 at the under-12 timeout.

Utah State’s defense stepped up, but could only do so much as they scored just four point over a nearly six-minute stretch. LMU used the cold Aggie shooting to extend their lead to 11 with a 15-4 run that made the score 30-19.

The Lions extended the lead to 13 before Utah State made a run.

Steven Ashworth used his craftiness to draw a foul on a three-point shot. After Ashworth hit all three freebies, Sean Bairstow made a driving layup and Max Shulga added two more free throws to make the score 32-26.

Bairstow got the sparse crowd involved on the Aggies next possession, taking advantage of a fast break to throw down a one-handed dunk, bringing USU within four points thanks to a 9-0 Aggie run.

The Aggies closed within one after a Dorius dunk and two Ashworth free throws.

Cam Shelton and Sean Bairstow ended the half by trading baskets as LMU took a 39-36 lead into the half after an action packed first half.

Shelton became just the latest guard to torch their defense as he poured in 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting. No other Lion had more than six points in the half.

Bairstow lead the Aggies with 10 points and four rebounds. Ashworth and Akin each chipped in eight points.

USU attempted just four three’s in the half, making one. They shot 42.3 percent overall.

Second Half

After attempting just four threes in the first half, a USU team that has average 26 three-point attempts this season came out firing with triples from Ashworth and Shulga to make the score 43-42, LMU.

RELATED: Utah State Pulls Away Late Against Utah Tech, Remain Undefeated

Out of the under-16 timeout with USU once again trailing by one, 48-47, Dorius went to the free throw line with the chance to give Utah State their first lead since leading 15-14 with 12:11 left in the first half. Dorius made the first, but the second caromed away with the score knotted at 48.

Utah State took their first lead in 17:23 when Taylor Funk threw down a dunk to put the Aggies in front 50-48 with 14:48 left. It was Funk’s first basket of the evening.

A 6-0 run, fueled by Funk’s second basket and another dunk from Bairstow gave USU their largest lead of the game, 56-50.

The run forced an LMU timeout.

The Aggie lead ballooned to 62-54 after Dorius grabbed a missed Funk three and laid it in. The bucket gave USU their largest lead of the game.

Down the stretch the Aggies were able to hang on to the lead thanks to Shulga converting six free throws. Shulga was 9-11 from the free throw line in the second half alone, finishing with a team high 18 points in the 79-67 win.

LMU was scoreless over the final 2:07. They missed 12 of their final 14 shots in falling the 7-4 this season.

Up Next

Utah State will play a pair of in-state home games in the coming days. The Westminster Griffins (1-8) travel to Logan for an exhibition on Thursday, December 15. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MST)

Following that exhibition, USU will welcome in the Weber State Wildcats (3-7) on Monday, December 19. Tipoff for this game is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MST).

Every Utah State basketball game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

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

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Utah State Erases Double-Digit Deficit Against LMU, Improve To 8-0