The Utah State Aggies were able to come away with a gritty victory over the San Jose Spartans in semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, winning by a score of 58-54. The Aggies were able to tighten up in the final moments of the back-and-forth contest, and they will definitely take the results of the game, even if it wasn’t pretty. “We are just glad to get out of there with a win,” Utah State head coach Stew Morrill said following the game. “…We will take it, and advance.” After holding a 56-54 lead, USU received a clutch play from one of their senior leaders. Tai Wesley grabbed an offensive rebound off of a missed shot by Pooh Williams, and the fiery post player put the ball back in the hole for what would be the final score. San Jose chose to go to their star player in Adrian Oliver, who took a long three point attempt that hit the front of the rim. “Tyler (Newbold) just did a great job getting the hand in on him,” Morrill said. “We were fortunate that he missed. Tyler Newbold is an awfully good defender.” Utah State played just well enough to win. They were out-shot and out-rebounded, by the smallest of margins. San Jose finished at 37.3%, and the Aggies went an even 37% from the field. The Spartans pulled down 36 rebounds from the line, compared to the Aggies 35 boards. San Jose played a match-up zone defense for most of the second-half, and they received credit from Coach Morrill for their efforts. “Credit goes to San Jose for the trouble that they have given to everybody in this tournament with that switching defense,” Morrill said. Tai Wesley and Brockeith Pane lead the men in blue, with 14 and 16 points, respectively. Wesley also had 12 rebounds, to finish with a double-double. Pooh Williams also scored seven points. The Spartans were lead by Adrian Oliver and Keith Shamburger, as the two guards scored 16 and 11 points, respectively. The two guards scored many of their points on penetrating drives. Utah State will now prepare to face either New Mexico State or Boise State, both of which matched up in the late game that tipped off at 9 PM. The Championship game will occur at 7 PM on Saturday night.
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