USU opens season with big win over Northwest Nazarene (with photo gallery)

Utah State annihilated Northwestern Nazarene University in an exhibition matchup Friday night, 85-51. The Aggies were able to get the 2009-10 season going with a dominant performance right from the opening tip off. In fact, it took the Crusaders over six minutes even get on the scoreboard, as Kendall Gielow made a layup with 13:51 left in the first half. “It’s a sign that we’re gonna play hard,” said head coach Stew Morrill. “But can we play hard consistently? It’s easy to play hard in spurts, but we played hard in the start of the game.” The first half was not the only time that the Aggies shined defensively. They held the Crusaders to 29% from the field, and forced 18 turnovers. Tai Wesley and Brady Jardine were able to alter and reject shot attempts, as they finished with three and two blocks, respectively. Jared Quayle led the team with four steals. Utah State also had a good showing offensively. They shot 61% from the field, as big men Tai Wesley and Nate Bendall led the way with 17 points each. Wesley, a returning starter from last years WAC championship team, was 8-9 in his twenty minutes of playing time. “It was definitely nice to establish our inside game early,” Wesley said. “It was a lot of fun tonight.” One of the main focuses of an exhibition game is to give young players valuable game experience, and such was the case against NNU. Three of the Aggie newcomers showed some promise on the offensive side in Nate Bendall, Preston Medlin, and Tyrone White. Bendall, the junior college transfer who is expected to replace 2008-09 WAC Player of the Year Gary Wilkinson, was dominant in the low post. The 6’9″ center had a perfect night shooting, as he went 7-7 from the floor and 3-3 from the charity stripe to finish with 17 points and six rebounds. “Nate Bendall, welcome home. Glad to have you back,” said Morrill. “It’s nice to have him back in an Aggie uniform. ” Medlin and White both shot the ball well. Medlin scored 12, and White had 11. Both freshmen, along with junior college transfer Brian Green, are expected to compete for playing time at guard in the regular season, as Pooh Williams is out with a foot injury. “Preston Medlin has a scorer’s mentality. He thinks that’s what he is supposed to do, and it appears he might be right,” quipped Morrill. The Aggies will have a full week of practice before facing off against Trinity Western next Saturday in another exhibition game in the Spectrum. “One thing we will do in the preseason is try and give guys opportunities,” Morrill said. “Before we get to WAC play, we will try and develop depth.”

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