LOGAN — In what is becoming a pattern, the Utah State men’s basketball team dug itself a big hole Saturday, chipped away at it for most of the second half, but fell to Nevada, 89-84.
After trailing by as many as 18 less than a minute into the second half, the Aggies (11-9, 3-6) battled back against the Wolf Pack, tying the game at 78 on a jumper by Shane Rector with 2:53 to play.
The Wolf Pack closed the game on an 11-6 run. Rushed shots by Chris Smith and Rector didn’t help the USU cause.
"Defensively we didn't have enough of a presence, and yet we have the game tied, with the ball and a chance to take the lead with under four minutes to go — winning time,” USU head coach Tim Duryea said.
“We didn't make any plays offensively or defensively. We missed key shots, key tip-ins, key free throws, had a couple unnecessary fouls and a couple times where we didn't get a defensive rebound.
Nevada (13-8, 5-4) had five players score in double figures and connected on 82.1 percent of its free throw attempts (23 of 28) compared to 50 percent (9 of 18) for Utah State.
Turnovers also plagued the Aggies — especially during a 33-13 run by Nevada over the final 10 minutes of the first half — and negated a 53.3 percent shooting performance by the home team. USU also shot 11 of 21 on three-pointers.
It was Utah State’s third consecutive loss and drops the Aggies to 3-6 in Mountain West play with a road game Tuesday at Boise State. The Broncos handled the Aggies in the Spectrum earlier this season, 76-61.
Smith (19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) and Jalen Moore (17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) paced USU once again, but got little help from the bench. Nevada’s reserves outscored the Aggie subs, 32-12.
Wolf Pack junior guard D.J. Fenner led all scorers with 21 points, which included 15 in the second half. He was followed by Marqueze Coleman (20 points) and Tyron Criswell (19 points). Cameron Oliver also scored in double figures with 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Spurred by a 3-point barrage — the Aggies hit their first four attempts from beyond the arc in the second half — USU used a 17-6 run to get back in striking distance. With 7:33 remaining, an 11-3 run brought Utah State the rest of the way back, culminating in Rector’s game-tying shot.
"We dug ourselves into a hole by allowing too many turnovers,” senior guard Darius Perkins said. “We fought out of the hole, but in the last few minutes we had to make plays, and they made key plays and we didn't. We had to make some shots at the end of the game and we couldn't do it.”
Following their game against the Broncos, the Aggies will travel to Wyoming. Utah State’s next home game will be on Tuesday, Feb. 9, against New Mexico at 8 p.m.