Hot shooting from 3 helps USU defeat Weber State 95-80 – Cache Valley Daily

FILE – Utah State Aggie basketball players Justin Bean (left), Brock Miller (center) and Brandon Horvath. Photo by Clint Allen

OGDEN, Utah – Utah State overwhelmed Weber State at the Dee Events Center 95 to 80. It’s the third victory in a row for the Aggies over the in-state rival Wildcats but the first victory in Ogden since 2015. Utah State scored the first 10 points and never relinquished their lead.

“This particular game we knew it was going to be a war up and down the court. I thought our guys did a great job,” head coach Ryan Odom said.

Guard Steven Ashworth was on fire. He put up a career-high seven 3-pointers, shooting 64% from beyond the arc. He had a career-high 27 points, four assists and two rebounds.

“Steven was fabulous, of course, with his shooting performance in the first half,” Odom said.

Ashworth knocked down three 3-pointers in four possessions late in the first half. He added to an Aggie offensive barrage that built a 16-point lead at halftime.

“I think me, personally, I’m trying to always be a guy that does whatever it takes to win. Whether that’s facilitating the ball, shooting the ball, crashing in on the weak side to get rebounds against bigger guys. I think tonight was one of those circumstances where I was open and I was feeling it,” Ashworth said.

Forward Brandon Horvath put up his first double-double of the season. Horvath didn’t hit any of his typical 3-pointers but still managed to score 20 points and snag 14 rebounds as he dominated the paint.

“Brandon’s a huge key for us. Especially, I think we’re elite offensively when Brandon and Bean are in there together. I think Brandon took some responsibility when we couldn’t have Bean out there in those last few minutes,” Ashworth said. “It’s always fun playing with a guy like Brandon who can stretch the floor and then also dominate down low when needed.”

Guard Brock Miller also put together a solid performance. He scored the Aggies’ first five points of the game on his way to a season-high 20 points. He added to the team’s high shot percentage from downtown, going 4-7 from three.

“Brock got us off to a great start,” Odom said.

Utah State hit early and often during the matchup. They started the game with a 10-0 run and after the opening basket, led the entire game.

“We wanted to make sure that we got off to a good start. If you want to win on the road, you’ve got to enter the game quickly, can’t get behind early. I thought our guys did a great job of being aggressive, but not taking bad shots,” Odom said.

The Aggies moved the ball well, leading to 23 assists on the night. Utah State led by as much as 27 with six minutes left in the game.

“I think this game was really a team victory and it showed with how many assists that we had, how much we were sharing the ball, how much fun we were having,” Ashworth said.

The Aggies struggled against Weber State’s fast-paced offense, especially in the first half allowing 44 points in the first 20 minutes. The Aggies adjusted and found some more success in the second half, but the Wildcats still put up the second-most points by a Utah State opponent this season.

“We always want to be a top 25 defensive team and you know we’ve talked about the statistics of what we got to do to accomplish that. I don’t think we quite were there tonight, but you know that’s why we play the game.”

Ashworth took responsibility for some of the defensive breakdowns on the court. One Wildcat Ashworth matched up against, former USU guard Koby McEwen, led Weber State in scoring with 26 points.

“I let McEwen get too many open looks from three and he’s a great player and so he made us pay for it,” Ashworth said. “I think, personally, I was able to do a better job defending the second half. And you know my teammates were there the whole time. They were great defensively.”

Even though Ashworth had a career night offensively, he was hard on himself about his management of the offense near the end of the game.

“I felt like I was a little too apprehensive when it came to beating and facilitating against the zone like that. I take that on me and my responsibility, especially when Rylan went out. It’s my job to be able to lead that team and get that team organized on the offensive end and I’ll make sure to do a better job at that going down the rest of the season,” Ashworth said.

It wasn’t forward Justin Bean’s night. His stellar season averages took a hit as he only made one shot in the game and grabbed six rebounds. Bean also exited the game with an apparent ankle injury. An injured Bean would be a huge loss for the Aggies, but coach Odom is optimistic that he won’t miss much if any time.

“He twisted his ankle there. We’ll see kind of how that shakes out. I think he’ll be fine,” Odom said.

Guard Rylan Jones racked up six assists and seven points in the contest but left the game with an apparent head injury. He was slow to get up after committing a blocking foul while trying to draw a charge. Jones appeared to clutch his head after falling to the ground. He exited the contest with 4:46 left in the game.

“He hit his head,” Odom explained. “We’ll see how it shakes out. He seems to be fine back there right now, but you never know.”

Utah State is back in action on Saturday, Dec. 18 against Iowa. The game will be played at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. It will be the Aggies’ fifth game at a neutral site this season.

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