Aggies drop conference opener to Boise State at home (with photo gallery)

LOGAN – After battling back from a nine-point deficit to take a 61-58 lead with five minutes left, the Aggies were unable to sustain its momentum. Boise State scored the game’s next 11 points, giving itself enough cushion to withstand USU’s last-minute push.

The 83-80 loss came in Utah State’s first conference game of the season and put the Aggies at 6-6 overall.

“Moral of the story is you have to play all 40 minutes,” head coach Tim Duryea said.

Inconsistency in USU’s ability to score hindered the team’s chances. The two teams were neck-and-neck through the first 10 minutes, but a 14-2 Bronco run put the Aggies down 33-24. Aggie guard Shane Rector was able to help end the slump when he stole the ball and connected with Jalen Moore, who drove in for an and-1 layup. USU finished the half strong, but Boise State was back up nine early in the second half.

“A back-forth-game,” said Moore, who scored a career-high 24 points. “Both teams were playing hard.”

After cutting Boise State’s lead to 55-52 at the 10:32 mark in the second half, neither team was able to score for the next three-and-a-half minutes. Rector finallyended the drought and tied the game on an and-1 play about one minute before Koby McEwen took the lead on free throws. All 17 of McEwen’s points came in the second half.

“I thought Koby McEwen showed a lot of character after a really poor first half,” Duryea said. “Coming out in the second half, not hanging his head and then really getting after it and making some things happen.”

Soon after the Aggies retook the lead is when the team seemed to lose all momentum. USU went scoreless for almost four minutes while Boise State dropped 11 points.

“We couldn’t extend the lead or anything,” Moore said. “They were able to come back and go up.”

Duryea said it was just like the home games against Weber State and Indiana State.

“It is frustrating to not feel like we have a closer we can really play through,” he said.

USU trailed by eight points entering the final 60 seconds, but through desperation 3s and quick fouls, the Aggies were able to get within two. It could have gotten even closer, but USU continued to hurt itself with mistakes. Boise State was able to get three offensive rebounds off of missed free throws during the final minute. Duryea said he think his team could have won had USU picked some of those up.

“Probably the most frustrating thing I’ve ever seen in coaching college basketball is when you can’t get a missed free throw rebound and they’ve got one guy on the line,” he said. “And you can’t come up with it, multiple times.

Aggie forward Alex Dargenton said missing the rebounds was “frustrating.”

“It was some bad bounces on the rebounds, but its something we cannot give up at the end of the game,” he said.

Dargenton (17) and Rector (15) each scored in double digits. Dargenton tied his career highs with nine rebounds and two blocks. The Aggies will play again Saturday at noon at Air Force.

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