Poor Start Dooms Utah State In Second Home Loss Of Season

Feb 8, 2023, 10:39 PM | Updated: Feb 12, 2023, 4:26 pm

LOGAN, Utah – A furious second-half comeback attempt by Utah State wasn’t enough as Max Shulga’s potential game-winner rimmed out in a 63-61 loss.

The Aggies (19-6, 8-4) hosted the San Diego State Aztecs (19-5, 10-2) at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Wednesday, February 8. It was the season’s second matchup between these programs with SDSU prevailing 85-75 at home on January 25.

Utah State entered the game riding a three-game winning streak, looking to win their sixth straight at home. The Aggies fended off a second-half comeback against Colorado State, winning 88-79 in their last game.

SDSU went 1-1 last week, losing by nine in Reno before beating Air Force 70-60 in Colorado Springs over the weekend.

RELATED: 12 Second-Half Threes Lead Utah State Over Colorado State

Steven Ashworth’s 18 points led the Aggies. Taylor Funk added 11 points in the loss.

Matt Bradley led all scorers with 18 points for San Diego State.

First Half

After hitting five threes in his previous game, Utah State’s Taylor Funk got the scoring started with a corner three that was assisted by Steven Ashworth.

The Aggies would jump out to a 10-6 lead heading into the first media timeout.

After falling behind by five, the Aztecs came alive. A 12-0 run gave SDSU a 20-13 lead and the Aggies began to unravel.

RELATED: Utah State Must Take Care Of Business At Home For NCAA Tournament Birth

Multiple technical fouls and a contentious moment near the San Diego State bench with 6:49 left in the half slowed the game significantly. When the dust settled, Aztecs point guard Darrion Trammell had been ejected, Conner Gillis and Connor Odom were thrown out after leaving the USU bench area and Aggie head coach Ryan Odom picked up a technical foul.

Once order had been restored, it was apparent that USU was playing the Aztecs game instead of the other way around.

Junior center Trevin Dorius made a nice play, blocking an SDSU shot and turning it into points on the other end when Sean Bairstow finished a layup.

The Aztecs took a 44-28 lead into the halftime locker room.

Second Half

In need of a spark after a frustrating first half, Bairstow hit Dorius with a perfect lob pass that the big man finished with authority.

Moments later, a second-chance bucket from Dorius got USU with ten at 44-34.

Slowly chipping away, Utah State found themselves down 56-49 after a Steven Ashworth floater tickled the twine, forcing a timeout from San Diego State with the Spectrum on the verge of bedlam.

Trailing by ten and looking to make a run, the Aggie defense forced two shot-clock violations against SDSU.

Ashworth took advantage at the other end, hitting a transition three to make it 62-55 with 3:58 left.

RELATED: Without Rylan Jones Healthy, Aggies Ceiling Remains Limited

Funk brought USU within three with a driving layup with 1:51 left. San Diego State picked up an offensive rebound but Funk forced his second steal of the game, creating a transition opportunity.

Dan Akin got fouled and made both free throws, bringing the Aggies within one.

With a chance to take the lead, a Max Shulga free throw line jumper came up short. SDSU secured the rebound forcing the Aggies to foul. Keshad Johnson missed the second foul shot, giving the Aggies one final attempt with 1.5 seconds on the clock.

A lengthy review prolonged the inevitable as Utah State fell 63-61. It was their second loss at home this season and snapped a three-game losing streak in Logan for the Aztecs.

Up Next

Utah State heads to California where they will face the San Jose State Spartans (14-10, 5-6) on Saturday, February 11. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 8 p.m. (MST) USU looks to sweep the season series against the Spartans after a 75-74, come-from-behind win in Logan on January 21.

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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Poor Start Dooms Utah State In Second Home Loss Of Season