LOGAN – Saturday night’s game between Utah State and Nevada followed the same pattern of many this season, the Aggies fell behind by double digits before grinding out a comeback that fell just short. The Wolf Pack held on to beat the Aggies 89-84 after leading by 18 early in the second half.
“We don’t need to keep digging ourselves a hole and just playing catchup with eight minutes left,” said senior guard Chris Smith, who led the Aggies with 19 points.
Jalen Moore scored 17, Shane Rector scored 16 and Darius Perkins had 14. The loss put the Aggies at 11-9 overall and 3-6 in conference.
USU led 22-16 midway through the first half before the difficulties started. Nevada outscored the Aggies 16-0 over the next 3:46. The run put USU in a 10-point hole.
“We got hit in the mouth, didn’t respond,”Perkins said. “Put our heads down, basically. That’s pretty much straight-forward to it. That’s what happened.”
Moore ended USU’s scoring drought with a 3-pointer, but Nevada’s Eric Cooper Jr. responded with a 3 of his own. The Wolf Pack, who coming into the gamer ranked last in 3-point field goal percentage at 27.2 percent, made 8-of-16 shots from from beyond the arc during the first half.
“The guys that we thought couldn’t shoot, hit some shots,” Perkins said.
“They made three threes in the first half that you don’t expect,” he said. “(Tyron) Criswell makes two and (Cameron) Oliver makes one. I think those two guys combined through their first nine games, or eight games through the conference season made two threes total.”
USU trailed by as many as 16 during the first half and went into the break down 49-35. The Aggies’ nine first-half turnovers led to 14 Nevada points.
The Wolf Pack picked up where they left off and scored two quick baskets within the first 45 seconds of the second half to take an 18-point lead.
“We were deer in the headlights the first possession or two,” Duryea said. “So we called timeout.”
The timeout seemed to help. Perkins came out and sunk a long jumper and Moore followed it with a 3-pointer the next time down the court. Less than 3 minutes later, USU had cut the Wolf Pack lead to 7.
“Once we got rolling in the second half, we were really hard to guard,” Duryea said.
Trailing 75-67 with 6:40 left, Rector sunk a deep 3-pointer that was followed by a Lew Evans layup to cut the Nevada lead to three, but Coleman hit a trey on the other end to extend it back to six. Jones followed it up by scoring the next four points to cut the Nevada lead to two. The game was finally tied after Rector hit a long 2-pointer with 2:53 left on the clock, but the Aggie momentum stopped there. Utah State went scoreless over the next 2:36 while Nevada made six of eight free throws to seal the victory.
“We had the game tied with the ball and a chance to take the lead with under four minutes to go,” Duryea said. “Basically winning time and we didn’t make any plays, offensively or defensively. We missed key shots, key tip-ins, key free throws and had a couple of unnecessary fouls.”
“In those last four minutes we should have just toughed it out and got ourselves a win,” Smith said.
The Aggies have now lost three-straight games and will head to Boise State Tuesday.