COLUMBUS, Ohio – Eighth-seeded Utah State men’s basketball (28-7, 15-3 Mountain West) lost, 78-61, to No. 9 Washington (27-8, 15-3 Pac-12) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday night.
Redshirt freshman guard Brock Miller led the Aggies with 13 points, while junior guard Sam Merrill and sophomore guard Abel Porter each had 10. Freshman center Neemias Queta posted a near double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.
A Queta jumper and Miller three gave the Aggies’ a 5-0 lead early in the first half. The Aggies extended the lead to six at 11-5 after free throws from Miller and a bucket from senior forward Quinn Taylor. The Huskies responded with a 9-0 run to take the 14-11 lead, but redshirt freshman forward Justin Bean countered with six-straight points to put USU up three at 17-14. Washington then scored the next eight points for the 22-17 advantage. After a free throw from Porter and a Miller three made it a two-point game at 27-25, the Huskies closed out the half with a 13-3 run to take the 40-28 edge heading into the break.
Layups from Taylor and Queta, along with a Taylor free throw, trimmed the lead to single digits at 40-33 to open the second half. After Washington pushed out the lead to 48-35, Utah State used a 11-3 run to make it a five-point game at 51-46 after a Merrill three, Queta free throws, a Porter triple and a Miller jumper. After the Huskies pushed the lead out to eight, free throws from Merrill and junior guard Diogo Brito, and a Merrill 3-pointer made it a one-point game at 54-53 with 9:54 to play. Washington, however, outscored Utah State, 24-8, in the final nine-and-a-half minutes of the game for the 78-61 win.
Four Huskies scored in double figures, led by senior forward Noah Dickerson with a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds.
USU finished the night shooting 35.2 percent (19-of-54) from the field, 35.0 percent (7-of-20) from behind the arc and 80.8 percent (16-of-20) at the free throw line. Washington shot 49.0 percent (25-of-51) from the floor, 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from behind the 3-point line and 85.7 percent (18-of-21) at the free throw line.