LOGAN, Utah — For the tenth season in a row, Utah State failed to secure a win in the postseason. Oregon was bigger, stronger and faster as they took care of the Aggies, 83-72.
“Oregon is a good team,” head coach Ryan Odom said.
The Ducks held the lead for the final 18-and-a-half minutes. While Oregon ran away with the game, thoughts turned towards the four Aggie seniors. While three players still have a year of eligibility, this could have been Justin Bean, Brandon Horvath, RJ Eytle-Rock and Brock Miller’s final game in Aggie blue.
Miller had a rough season as he dealt with back injuries that limited his playtime. Odom made sure he got back on the court in what was likely his final game in the Spectrum.
“I wanted to give him one more chance to get a standing ovation,” Odom said.
Miller, Horvath and Bean were subbed out with 36 seconds. As they left the Spectrum court for likely the last time, they hugged the coaching staff. For Horvath, it was his final moment with the coaches he played for his entire collegiate career.
“I’ve been with them for five years,” Horvath said. “They took a chance on me. I was at prep school, I really didn’t have that many offers, but they took a chance on me. Little six-seven, 160-pound kid from Maryland. I just had a lot of thoughts, a lot of appreciation for them and just for everything they’ve done for me and my family. I just love those guys to death.”
Horvath had another solid night for the Aggies. He scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked a shot. Though his career was short as an Aggie, he took advantage of every minute.
“I’m just so blessed and thankful that I came here for my final year,” Horvath said. “ It was more than I expected. It was better than I expected. I left it all out there today. I left it all out there all season, so I don’t really have any regrets. I wish we would’ve won, obviously, but it is what it is.”
After the horn sounded and the final score was set, the Aggies shook hands with the Ducks and made their way around the arena high-fiving fans. It is something they have done after every home game this year, but this time was different. Especially for Bean. He hugged nearly every fan in the front row in an effort to “savor the moment.” Bean still has a year of eligibility, but it may have been his final moments as an Aggie.
“There’s a lot of important conversation I have to have in the next coming weeks and months,” Bean said. “I came here as a walk-on and you don’t see many places that take guys like me in and support you and love you. Before I was this type of player, they brought me in truly. I have no words to say.”
Bean began to tear up when talking to the media about what Utah State fans have meant to him.
“Just how much I appreciate Aggie nation,” Bean said.” I don’t know if players usually do this, I’m sure they don’t, but that should tell you just how much these fans mean to me. Coaches, players, teammates, all of them… Just super grateful.”
In this contest, Bean scored nine points and grabbed 16 rebounds. If Bean is done at Utah State, he finished his career with 1,445 points and 1,027 rebounds. He is the second-best rebounder in both Aggie and Mountain West history.
While there is still some dust to settle about what players and personnel may return for next year, this season ended in the second half of Tuesday night’s game.
Utah State led Oregon 37 to 32 at halftime, but the Ducks took control after the break. As Odom described it, the Aggies turned “a really good team loose.” Oregon went on an 11-2 run to take the lead which they ever relinquished.
The Ducks’ size and athleticism shined against the Aggies. They were often one-step quicker and when they were not, they used their strength to punish Utah State in the paint.
“They were a really physical team,” Bean said. “It made us uncomfortable.”
Oregon was dominant down low. They scored 48 points in the paint and 10 second-chance points. It was not just the big guys either. Guards De’Vion Harmon and Jacob Young often drove in on their way to a combined 36 points.
One bright spot for the Aggies was guard Steven Ashworth. Coming off the bench, he electrified a stagnant Aggie offense in the first half. Down 10-2, Ashworth hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to take a one-point lead. He also helped move the ball and collected four assists in the first half.
“Steven began to make some shots for our team to give us that life that he’s been giving us all year off the bench,” Odom said. “That settled some of the other guys down, too. When he does that, that really helps, and the others feed off that. The defense gets a little bit better.”
Ashworth finished with 20 points, five assists and two rebounds.
With this loss, the Aggies are out of the National Invitation Tournament and their season is over. Their final record is 18-16 which means coach Odom recorded a winning season in his first year at the reigns.