SALT LAKE CITY – Utah State held off a Weber State comeback to win 76-67 and improve to 8-2 on the season Saturday afternoon at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Aggies led by 18 points in the first half, but had the lead cut to just six in the final minutes of the game.
“We’re really happy with the way we responded today against a good Weber team,” Aggie junior Sam Merrill said.
Merrill led USU scorers with 19 points. Diogo Brito had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Weber State fell to 5-4 with the loss. The Wildcats were led in scoring by Cody John (16 points), Caleb Nero (15) and Zach Braxton (14).
Aggie head coach Craig Smith said it was a “good, bounce-back game.”
“Its a good W,” he said. “We’re back on track.”
Utah State scored the first nine points of the game and built a 34-16 advantage with 5:32 left in the first half. Weber State’s Brekkott Chapman responded with a 3-pointer before Braxton scored six of the Wildcats’ final eight points of the half to cut the Aggie lead to 39-17 at the break.
“I think we got off to a great start,” Smith said. “We played with a lot of force and a lot aggression. We were really in attack mode in a major way on both offense and defense.”
Weber State continued to chip at USU’s lead through the second half. A 7-0 Wildcat run cut USU’s lead to 10 with 7:24 left. Aggie freshman Neemias Queta, who finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks, fouled out with 4:03 left in the game.
“He got a couple of silly fouls early in that second half,” Smith said. “Kind of wrong place, wrong time. When he was out of the game (Weber State was) a lot more on attack.”
It was shortly after Queta left the game that Weber State cut the Aggie lead to just six, but that’s when another Aggie freshman stepped up. Brock Miller checked in and hit a 3-pointer to increase the lead and slow Weber State’s momentum.
“(Miller) sat on the bench for 11 minutes, game time,” Smith said. “That’s like 45 minutes actual time. To Brock’s credit, sometimes it is east to check out, and he gets in there, and he’s not in there for a minute and Sam finds him in the corner and he drills the three. That was a monster play.”
Utah State will have a week-long break before hosting Alabama State next Saturday.