USU breaks through with dominant second half to defeat SDSU 75-57 – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN, Utah — A breakthrough Utah State had been searching for all January finally came at home on Wednesday night. The Aggies snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating San Diego State 75 to 57.

“It just feels really good to get off that losing streak, especially like how we were losing, just really close games to really good teams. We were in practice every day saying we’re right there and we just kept pushing, kept working, and it feels really good to beat a really good team,” forward Brandon Horvath said.

The losing streak felt like an “eternity” to Aggie players and fans alike.

“We felt like we’d been right there,” head coach Ryan Odom said. “Tonight, I think what you saw was offensively we got back to Aggie basketball and how we were playing a little bit earlier in the season.”

In the Aggies’ second palindrome score win of the season, their perimeter shooting proved to be a major factor. For the first time in conference play, Utah State outshot their competition from beyond the arc. It was also the first time the Aggies have made 10 or more 3’s since Dec. 21.

“We just had to get back to Aggie basketball we were playing before. Just keep passing, keep shooting, eventually, they were going to fall,” Horvath said.

Guard Steven Ashworth provided the edge Utah State needed tonight. He came out with confidence from beyond the arc, and it paid off as he sunk four 3-pointers in the first half.

“The ball was just moving a whole lot faster offensively for us and Steven (Ashworth) got us off to a good start with some timely 3’s,” Odom said. “

Ashworth’s confident mentality seemed to rub off on the team as Utah State’s momentum increased.

“He’s a great leader. He believes in himself. He believes in his team. He has the proper attitude even though we’ve had some rough losses and we’ve been disappointed. There’s no dejection,” Odom said.

The Aggies were able to move the ball more successfully than in their last stretch of losses. This proved true with the 19 assists Utah State racked up during the game. Forward Justin Bean had five of those on his way to collecting his conference-leading 13th double-double of the season.

“Bean was back to playing the way that he was playing earlier in the season. Free and loose and fun and active. As evidenced by the five assists that he had,” Odom said.

After a quick start from Horvath and Ashworth, the Aggies held on to a lead for most of the first half. The Aztecs lead at two different times during the entire game totaling 56 seconds.

While the Aggies led for most of the first half, San Deigo State kept them at arms reach never going down by more than eight. Utah State’s eight-point lead was whittled down with 4:36 left in the first half. San Diego State went on a 9-0 run cutting down Utah State’s lead to 32 to 31.

Coming out of the locker room, it was clear the Aggies were ready to put distance between themselves and the Aztecs. Utah State went on a 13-2 run to start the second half led by seven points from guard RJ Eytle-Rock. A successful second-half start was the mentality when the Aggies returned to the court.

“Whatever you got to do to get ready coming out of this halftime… it’s on you right now. We got to get this thing going. Playing with energy, playing with that focus that we need to get ourselves back to where we want to be,” Odom said.

With 10:00 left in the game, the Aztecs had their last solid chance to get back into the game. Five quick points turned into a 9-0 run after guard Max Shulga had an offensive foul that turned into a five-point swing. Shulga was called for a moving screen while Ashworth sunk a three and then the Aggies surrendered a Matt Bradley jumper on the other end. The run cut down Utah State’s lead to seven, but the Aggies were able to build it back up because of Aztec misses and turnovers.

Ashworth stepped back up in the final four minutes to help ice the game. He made two free throws and then stole the ball and assisted guard Sean Bairstow on a monster dunk. Ashworth finished with 17 points, two rebounds and five assists.

With the win, Utah State’s record improves to 11-9, 2-5 in conference play. The Aggies are back in action on Saturday at Nevada.

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