Utah State Stymies Runnin’ Rebels In Dominating Second Half

Mar 1, 2023, 11:14 PM | Updated: 11:23 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Junior point guard Steven Ashworth wasn’t going to allow UNLV any thought of a comeback on Wednesday night. After his team’s 12-point halftime lead had been whittled to four, Ashworth scored eight straight points, starting a 23-5 USU run on their way to a 91-66 win.

In their final road game of the season, Utah State (23-7, 12-5) took on the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (17-12, 6-11) at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday, March 1. This was a rematch of a 75-71 Utah State win over the Rebels in Logan on January 23.

The Aggies played just one game last week, outlasting the Wyoming Cowboys for a 65-55 win.

UNLV halted a three-game losing streak, defeating Air Force 54-53, on February 24.

RELATED: Utah State Hangs On, Aggies Pick Up Important Win Against Wyoming

Ashworth’s 27 points & five threes led the Aggies to a dominating road win. Max Shulga had a great all-around game, finishing with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block. Zee Hamoda and Dan Akin combined for 22 points off the bench on 9-of-10 shooting.

EJ Harkless led UNLV with 20 points in the loss.

RELATED: Report: Former Aggie Sam Merrill To Sign 10-Day Contract With Cleveland Cavaliers

First Half

Junior Aggie guard Max Shulga opened the scoring by knocking down a mid-range jumper on the game’s first possession.

Utah State made 5 of their first eight shots to take a 10-9 lead with 14:44 left in the half.

After Dan Akin threw down a second-chance dunk for USU, the Rebels reeled off six straight points to take a brief 15-12 lead.

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Utah State answered with a 9-0 run, including five points from leading-scorer Steven Ashworth to take a 21-15 lead with 7:56 left in the half.

Out of a timeout, Shulga hit his first three to make it a 12-0 run as Utah State opened up the game’s first double digit lead, 26-15. Moments later, he became the first Aggie to reach double-figures with his second three of the half.

Leading 34-25, USU used another 6-0 run to build a 15-point lead before two free throws from Shane Nowell stopped the run. The Aggies ended up taking a 44-32 halftime lead.

EJ Harkless led all scorers with 15 points for UNLV. Ashworth and Shulga each scored 14 points for the Aggies. USU’s defense limited the Rebels to 35.5 percent shooting (11-of-31) while the Aggies made 51.7 percent (15-of-29) of their shots.

Second Half

Early in the second half, Akin soared to the hoop for the highlight play of the night. On a pick and roll with Sean Bairstow, Akin rolled to the basket, catching a lob from Bairstow and finishing through a foul for the and-one dunk.

After falling behind 49-37, UNLV used an 8-0 burst to get within four points with 15:56 to play. Jackie Johnson III made two Rebel threes during the stretch.

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With the Rebels within striking distance, Ashworth scored eight straight, including a 28-footer right in front of the Aggie bench. USU held a 57-45 lead with 13:22 to play.

The lead ballooned to 17 points with Utah State going on a 14-1 over 4:41 of play to take a 63-46 lead. UNLV missed five of six shots while the Aggies surged.

The Rebels called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding after Bairstow hit a three to give USU a 70-50 lead.

The Aggies cruised the rest of the way, picking up a 91-66 win.

Up Next

Utah State closes out the regular season when they welcome the Boise State Broncos (21-6, 11-3) to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday, March 4. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MT).

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 Stymies Runnin’ Rebels In Dominating Second Half