Stifling Defense Helps Utah State Steal Win From San Francisco

Dec 16, 2023, 4:15 PM | Updated: 4:28 pm

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Delta Center is ready to host Utah State vs. San Francisco on Saturday, December 16.

LOGAN, Utah – Eight second-half steals and some clutch free throw shooting allowed Utah State to escape the Delta Center with a hard-fought 54-53 win over San Francisco.

Utah State (11-1) played the San Francisco Dons at Delta Center on Saturday, December 16.

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Ian Martinez led the Aggies in scoring for the second straight night, finishing with 20 points and eight rebounds, and five steals. Great Osobor finished with six points and eight rebounds while Darius Brown II added five points, six rebounds, and four assists.

Utah State shot 30.4 percent as a team but made 15-of-20 free throws in the second half to get the win.

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First Half

It was a ragged opening stretch for both teams as the Aggies missed seven of their first ten shots. Turnovers and a 3-for-8 shooting start for San Francisco allowed USU to take a 7-6 lead to the first media timeout.

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Great Osobor’s first bucket came midway through the half with the Aggie offense continuing to struggle. Following a pump fake to get the defender off his feet, Osobor glided to the bucket for a one-handed jam that game USU a 13-12 lead.

On the other end, a Kalifa Sakho steal and breakaway dunk forced a Dons timeout. Utah State led 15-12 with 9:22 left.

Following Sakho’s dunk, the Aggie offense went without a field goal for nearly four minutes. Ian Martinez finally broke the scoring skid with a paint jumper that made it 21-18 San Francisco.

The Dons closed the half with three free throws after an ill-advised Martinez foul on a three-point shot. Utah State trailed 30-25 at the break.

Second Half

USU opened the second-half with an apparent intent to attack the basket. Martinez and Osobor shot free throws early in the period. Defensively, four Aggie steals kept San Francisco scrambling.

Despite the increased intensity, USU trailed 36-33 with 12:49 left after a pair of Josh Uduje free throws. San Francisco was in the bonus less than seven minutes into the half.

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Eight free throws powered a 10-0 Aggie run to take a 41-36 lead with 11:59 left.

After Osobor got loose for a dunk, the Dons went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead. San Francisco led 47-43 with 7:16 to play.

The Dons took a four-point lead into the final media timeout after USU missed 13 of its first 17 shots (23.5 percent) in the half.

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Martinez ended a more than eight minute field goal drought when he drove baseline and finished with a layup through traffic to tie the game at 50 with 2:09 left.

A 6-0 run allowed USU to take a 52-50 lead when Sakho finished at the basket on a second-chance opportunity.

Out of a timeout, San Francisco ran a play to free Malik Thomas for a right-wing three that gave the Dons a one-point lead with 37.4 seconds remaining.

Sakho gave the Aggies the lead back with a second-chance bucket. USU’s defense stood strong on the game’s final possession. The 12th Aggie steal of the afternoon sent Utah State home with its tenth straight win, 54-53.

Following USU With KSL Sports Zone

USU has one game remaining before an extended holiday break. The Aggies will host East Tennessee State (6-4) on Friday, December 22. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MT). This will be the first game between these two programs.

Listen to USU basketball games on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

Find KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics here. 

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Stifling Defense Helps Utah State Steal Win From San Francisco