The Utah State Aggies made sure that Jared Quayle left the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum as a winner, by beating New Mexico State 81-63 to capture their third consecutive Western Athletic Conference regular-season title in front of a raucous sell-out crowd. “To win our third straight WAC championship is kind of unimaginable in a way,” head coach Stew Morrill said. “I’m very very proud of our guys and everybody affiliated with our program. It’s a special thing.”It was an emotional night for the Aggie’s point guard. Quayle started and finished the night with celebrations, and in between had one heck of a game. The lone senior and lifetime Aggie fan out of Perry, UT was honored along with his wife before the tip-off, receiving a framed jersey and a loud standing ovation from the Aggie faithful. Quayle capped off the victory by helping to cut down the nets in celebration of the WAC title, and proudly wore his championship shirt and hat along with a flowery lei. However, it was his play in the regular season finale that was the most memorable. He scored 17 points, grabbed a team high seven rebounds, and dished out four assists, all in 35 minutes of play.”It’s indescribable. It’s a great feeling,” Quayle said when asked about his final game. “It’s been two great years. I’ve had great coaches and great teammates, and the fans are awesome. It’s just been a great place to play, and I have loved it.””Jared is such a great guy,” junior forward Tai Wesley said. “He is such a great player. He’s that silent killer that will go out and really play hard for you, and give you his all. You can’t say enough about Jared Quayle.”Wesley put the exclamation point on a dominant week himself. The fiery team leader scored 24 points on 9-10 shooting, while pulling down six rebounds and handing out six assists. Wesley also played great defensively, holding New Mexico State star Wendell McKines to a total of six points before fouling out with 2:06 left in the game. “Obviously, Tai Wesley had a monster night,” said Morrill. “There a lot of guys that have to do their job for us to win, and he did his very well.”After most of the first half as a back-and-forth affair, USU took some momentum when a crucial play happened just before the break. NMSU’s Jahmar Young was whistled for a technical foul with :36 seconds left after getting in a tussle with Brady Jardine when the two players dove for a loose ball. Quayle calmly stepped to the line and drained both foul shots to put the Aggies up 34-30 heading into the intermission.The technical gave the Aggies what seemed to be just enough momentum to pull away from NMSU, as Utah State came out of the half on a 7-0 run to push their lead to double digits. USU got lots of buckets from close to the basket early on in the second half, and played shut-down defense on the southern Aggies. Utah State also did a good job of breaking New Mexico State’s full court press, which they faced for most of the game. Quayle had only one turnover, despite being hounded all night by multiple NMSU defenders.Next week, the Aggies will head to the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, NV for the WAC Tournament. USU will play Boise State at noon PST Thursday in the first round. If the Aggies beat the Broncos, they will then play the winner of the Louisiana Tech-Fresno State matchup on Friday. The winner of the WAC tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament and there is debate as to whether or not USU has done enough to secure an at-large bid if they don’t come away victorious in Reno. The bottom line is, Aggies win and they’re in.
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