Ogden • For the first time all year, Utah State trailed at halftime. The team that made them struggle? Their neighbor just 45 minutes to the south.
Weber State was giving the Aggies all they could handle, driving inside and hitting shots. The Utah State coaching staff shook the team up at the break, saying the Aggies had better start showing up.
“It was a good message,” sophomore Kyle Davis said. “They battled early in the beginning. But we just kept grinding and grinding, and it’s a credit to the whole team for just working through the pressure defense and the crowd and everything.”
An in-state rivalry took on the feel of a tournament game as Utah State (5-0) battled back against the Wildcats (0-3) to win a 77-71 battle at Dee Events Center on Tuesday night.
The Aggies pounded the paint on offense to get the victory, led by 20 points from senior center Jarred Shaw and a 16-point, 14-rebound night from Davis. Utah State shot 63 percent in the second half, thanks to Shaw’s aggression and Davis getting open by the baseline.
Weber State, true to the rivalry’s flavor the last few years, kept it close — it was a four-point game with 10 seconds left — but free throws and clutch plays down the stretch sealed it.
Coach Stew Morrill wasn’t crazy about how his team defended at the start but was glad the Aggies wrapped it up.
“We kind of got knocked on our keister in the first half. They really got it going and we couldn’t get it contained. Usually, both teams don’t play this good on offense because we know each other’s systems so well. But they did a great job of driving on us.”
The Aggies stormed out to start, scoring on their first six possessions and amassing a 14-5 lead at the first media timeout. But tough defense by Weber State and few stops at all by Utah State brought the game close again until the Wildcats were the team dictating the pace.
A 3-pointer by Davion Berry put Weber State up with more than 6 minutes left in the first half, and the Wildcats kept the lead through halftime.
The lead ended up changing eight times, and the score was tied five times before the Aggies pulled ahead for good thanks to some timely defensive plays by Spencer Butterfield, including a steal and a defensive rebound that led to scores.
Butterfield finished with 16 points, and Preston Medlin had 13 points and seven assists.
“We had some guys step up in the second half,” Morrill said. “Made a few more plays, made a few more shots and that was it. … We’ll take it. It’s a good road win.”
Foul trouble was a first-half issue that hurt the Aggies. Jordan Stone committed three fouls and Shaw had two with more than eight minutes left, forcing Utah State into a small lineup to keep their big men out of trouble. But Shaw played 19 minutes in the second half, helping the Aggies take advantage of the matchup down low.
Berry led the Wildcats with 21 points on 6-for-11 shooting, and Jeremy Senglin added 14 points.
Both were strong in the lane, pouring in a combined 21 in the second half. Post threats Kyle Tresnak and Joel Bolomboy, however, struggled to finish with only 14 points between them despite each averaging double -digit points headed into the game.
O Aggies shoot 63 percent from the floor in the second half.
• Jarred Shaw leads with 20 points, and Kyle Davis goes for 16 and 14 rebounds.
• Davion Berry scores a game-high 21 points for Weber State.
Utah State 77, Weber State 71
UTAH ST. (5-0)
Butterfield 6-11 3-4 16, K. Davis 7-8 2-5 16, Shaw 8-15 4-4 20, Medlin 4-8 4-5 13, Roland 1-3 0-0 2, M. Davis 0-2 2-2 2, Clifford 0-4 0-0 0, Berger 0-1 2-2 2, Moore 3-4 0-0 6, Stone 0-1 0-0 0.
Totals 29-57 17-22 77.
WEBER ST. (0-3)
Berry 6-11 8-9 21, Bolomboy 2-4 0-0 4, Tresnak 4-7 2-4 10, Richardson 3-6 0-2 9, Senglin 6-13 2-4 14, Gittens 4-6 0-0 8, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Hill 2-7 1-2 5.
Totals 27-54 13-21 71.
Halftime—Weber St. 33-31. 3-Point Goals—Utah St. 2-7 (Medlin 1-2, Butterfield 1-3, Berger 0-1, Clifford 0-1), Weber St. 4-12 (Richardson 3-4, Berry 1-4, Senglin 0-1, Gittens 0-1, Hill 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Utah St. 33 (K. Davis 14), Weber St. 29 (Bolomboy, Hill 8). Assists—Utah St. 14 (Medlin 7), Weber St. 9 (Berry 3). Total Fouls—Utah St. 21, Weber St. 19. A—9,169.