Provo • Walking out of the Marriott Center, a row of Aggies had their heads slumped down, shaking them side to side.
For the second time in less than a week, a game had been in their grasp. And this was at BYU, where no Utah State team has won since 2004.
And then, with a rebound and a floater, it was over. The opportunity to come away with a unexpected, obstacle-laced win had vanished. Spencer Butterfield, for one, still seemed to find the 70-68 loss hard to believe.
“It was perfect,” he said wistfully. “[Matt Carlino] came off the screen, we had him guarded, he missed the shot. We just have to come up with the rebound. You can’t ask for much better than that.”
But it wasn’t just the shot itself that gave Utah State heartburn. Other moments in the game stuck out, as well.
Letting Tyler Haws get an offensive rebound with 31 seconds left. Fouling Brandon Davies twice in the last two minutes. Any of the Aggies’ 18 turnovers. Any of their 10 missed free throws.
Looking back at the defeat Tuesday night, all of those moments will ache just like the bumps and bruises from the physical matchup.
“It was just little things here and there,” Butterfield said. “I can pick out five different plays that go our way and we win. We just have to play a little bit harder.”
Everybody said it afterward: Utah State did a lot of things right.
Haws had his 27 points, but Davies was decidedly outplayed matching up with Jarred Shaw and Jordan Stone. Stone came up with four blocks. Butterfield got another double-double. The Aggies held BYU to only 35.2 percent shooting, and they outrebounded the Cougars in the game.
Except at the end.
Like against Denver last week, it wasn’t enough. Stew Morrill said the turnovers and the free throws did his team in. Three-pointers didn’t go in, either. It didn’t help that tight officiating both ways put the Aggies in serious foul trouble, with five of eight players with four fouls at one time.
Walking on eggshells virtually all game, the eggs finally cracked. But that’s how it can be at the Marriott Center, where it always seems like one thing or another stands in the way of a Utah State victory.
“It’s tough to win here,” Morrill said. “Always has been, always will be.”
Ags’ highlights and lowlights
• Spencer Butterfield leads Utah State with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
• The Aggies hold the Cougars to 35.2 percent from the field, only 4-for-21 from 3-point range.
• Utah State outrebounds BYU 38-33, but gives up a board that leads to the game-winner.