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Aggieville: USU Sports

After first MWC win of the year, Aggies exhale: ‘We needed that one really badly’

First Published      Last Updated Jan 05 2017 01:24 pm

Logan • On a frigid, snow-packed Wednesday night in Logan, the Utah State Aggies busted out of the icy run of form they found themselves stuck in these last two weeks. In front of a sparse mid-week crowd, the Aggies snapped that pesky three-game losing streak — not to mention chalking one up in the Mountain West Conference win column.

Utah State's first game of 2017 turned out to be one to finally build momentum upon. The 79-75 win over the New Mexico Lobos not only avoided losing three straight at home for the Aggies, but flipped the script on what has been a painstakingly familiar tune this year: A failure to close out late-game scenarios.




But they did Wednesday night.

"That was a great win for us," USU coach Tim Duryea said, "we needed that one really badly."

Four Aggies scored in double figures and USU drained 10 3-pointers in the victory.

The Aggies (7-7, 1-3 MWC), led by senior forward Jalen Moore and freshmen Sam Merrill and Koby McEwen, rose to the occasion at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Moore's 20 points against New Mexico advanced the senior forward's streak of consecutive games in double-digit scoring to 27 straight. Merrill's breakout game of the year resulted in 13 points and eight assists.

"I feel like we finally just got sick of losing close games," Moore said.

As Moore and Merrill carried the Aggies, it was McEwen's second-half performance that helped USU squeeze by the Lobos. The freshman combo guard finished with 18 points and drilled a crucial 3-pointer to put the Aggies up 60-57 with 7:56 remaining. A follow-up tip-in by sophomore forward Quinn Taylor, who came off the bench to provide the spark necessary to upend New Mexico, summarized the grit needed in the win.

A Merrill 3-pointer broke a 47-47 deadlock early in the second half. The freshman from Bountiful was at the right place at the right time when he picked up a loose ball, drove through traffic and finished strongly at the rim to put the Aggies up 53-49 with 11:17 left in the second. A steal and an assist by Merrill to senior guard Shane Rector put the Aggies up 71-63 with less than two minutes remaining.

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