OREM – It was a close, low-scoring game that head coach Stew Morrill called “ugly,” but it was a win. The 50-47 victory over Utah Valley took all 40 minutes to decide. It improved Utah State’s record to 4-4 on the season and a perfect 10-0 all-time against UVU.
“It was a good defensive basketball game,” head coach Stew Morrill said. “It was a nightmare offensively.
“It was just one of those hard-fought, physical, ugly in-state games. I’ve been in a bunch of them.”
Sophomore forward Jalen Moore was only 2-9 from the field during the night, but came up big when needed. After coming back from being 10 points down, USU had tied the game in the final minutes. With only 24 seconds left on the clock, Moore hit a jumper just inside the three-point line to give the Aggies a 47-45 lead.
“I was at the three-point line and I was about to pull the three and I was like, ‘I haven’t really made one this game,’” Moore said. “So I gave a little up-fake. I went to my dribble jump-shot and it happened to fall for me.”
Just seconds later on the opposite end of the court, Moore stole the ball from UVU guard and former Aggie Marcel Davis. Moore was soon fouled and sent to the free throw line, increasing the Aggie lead to three with just seven seconds left in the game.
“I was just trying to get emotional and just lock down on defense after I hit that big jumper,” Moore said. “I ended up coming up with that steal and went to the line.”
Poor shooting by the Aggies contributed to the low-scoring first half. The Aggies went into the break trailing 23-17 after missing their first seven shots and then making just five of the last 18 to finish the half.
“We struggled,” said Julion Pearre, who had his first career start for the Aggies. “But coach came in there, gave us a pep talk and we got things going.”
Utah State continued to shoot poorly and fell behind by even more in the second half, but finally tied up the game with 7:24 left on a Pearre free throw. Pearre came up big in the second half and scored 11 points.
“When (Pearre) needed to make a couple of shots he did, and that was huge for us,” Morrill said.
Even though Moore made only two field goals, he led the Aggies in scoring. Of his 14 points, 10 came from free throw line. He also had a team-high seven rebounds.
“He was struggling making shot like all of us,” Morrill said. “First half he was really struggling. He’s going to hang in there mentally. He’s not going anywhere on you. He’s solid as a rock and that certainly helped him.”
The Aggies will return to Logan to play in the World Vision Classic Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The first opponent will be CSU Bakersfield.