Defense Keys Utah State Blowout Win Against Seattle

Dec 22, 2022, 5:43 PM | Updated: 5:46 pm
Utah State guard Max Shulga (Courtesy of USU Athletics)
(Courtesy of USU Athletics)

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State leaned on their defense in the first half and a hot-shooting second half, improving to 10-1 with an 84-56 win.

Utah State (9-1) took on the Seattle Red Hawks (8-2) in the first leg of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday, December 21.

USU recovered after seeing their 9-0 start to the season come to an end at the hands of in-state rival Weber State earlier this week. The 9-0 start matched the Aggies 1938-39 and 1917-18 season’s for the longest unbeaten streak to open the year.

The Red Hawks upended Alcorn State 72-58 on Sunday afternoon. The win came on the heals of Seattle’s second loss of the season, a 73-58 setback against Oregon State.

Max Shulga secured his third double-double of the season, finishing with 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Steven Ashworth’s 17 points led five Aggies in double figure scoring.

Cameron Tyson led the Red Hawks with 20 points. Riley Grigsby added 12 in the loss.

RELATED: Second Half Comeback Helps Weber State Stun USU In Logan

First Half

Seattle made their first three shots but quickly came back to earth, missing their next three.

USU’s Sean Bairstow scored four points in the opening minutes. The senior guard hit two free throws and followed it up with a mid-range jumper to give the Aggies their first lead 8-6.

Seattle used four offensive rebounds to make up for an 0-for-5 start from beyond the arc. Seattle outrebounded Utah State by three in the opening eight minutes.

Bairstow hit the games first three, a bank that nestled home, ending an 0-for-3 start from deep for USU. Bairstow’s seventh point tied the game at 13.

RELATED: 67-Point Second Half Gives Utah State Blowout Win Over Westminster

With the score tied at 15, USU went on the first run of the ball game for either team.

Zee Hamoda and Dan Akin found openings for layups that gave the Aggies a four point lead.

After trading scoreless possessions, Steven Ashworth knocked down his first three of the day, giving USU a 22-15 lead with 7:01 left in the first half.

The Red Hawks futility from deep continued as they were 0-for-10 from three.

RELATED: Balanced Utah State Attack Puts Nation On Notice After 9-0 Start

Cameron Tyson finally hit a three for Seattle following the timeout but Ashworth answered with his second straight from deep.

The Aggie run improved to 16-3 and was capped by a dunk from Bairstow, assisted by Max Shulga, that forced another Red Hawk timeout. Utah State led 31-18 after the dunk.

USU would go into the halftime break with a 36-24 lead.

Sean Bairstow led all scorers with nine points. Reiley and Cameron Tyson each scored five for the Red Hawks.

Second Half

Halftime didn’t slow the Aggies down.

Seattle hit a quick three out of the break but USU  soon followed with an 10-0 second half run to jump in front by 19, 48-29.

RELATED: Depth Showing Up As Injuries Hit Undefeated Utah State

Taylor Funk hit a pair of threes during the run for USU.

Later in the half, Funk’s third three of the half gave the Aggies their first 20 point lead as they went up 54-33.

The lead ballooned to 24 thanks to five straight points from Shulga. Shulga became the fifth Aggie to score in double figures with back to back layups.

USU would lead by as many as 31 on their way to an 84-55 victory.

Up Next

Utah State will face SMU on Friday, December 22. Tipoff for this game is scheduled for 5 p.m. (MST).

The Aggies wrap-up their non-conference schedule with a game on Christmas Day in Hawaii. Each of these games can be found on ESPN Networks.

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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Defense Keys Utah State Blowout Win Against Seattle