by Wade Denniston, USU Athletic Media Relations
LOGAN, Utah – Utah State sophomore guard Koby McEwen hit a free throw with one second left in regulation to send the game to overtime, then scored four more points in the extra session to lift the Aggies past Fresno State 81-79 in front of 8,276 fans on Wednesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
McEwen led all scorers in the game with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field, including 3-of-8 from the 3-point arc. His points and shots made matched a career high set last year against UNLV, was his shot attempts broke his old mark of 14 set earlier this season against Montana State.
Fresno State guard Deshon Taylor paced the Bulldogs with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field. He had a chance to give the visitors at least a two-point cushion with five seconds left in regulation, but missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity.
Junior forward Quinn Taylor grabbed the rebound – one of his nine on the night – for the Aggies (9-7, 2-1 Mountain West). The ball found its way to McEwen, who was fouled by Taylor with one second remaining. McEwen sank the front end of his one-and-one to square the game at 69-apiece, but couldn’t knock the second one down.
However, Taylor nabbed the offensive rebound in the key and immediately put the ball back up, but the iron was unkind and the game headed to overtime.
McEwen opened the scoring in the extra session just 30 seconds in with a layup, but Fresno State (11-5, 1-2) answered with a 6-0 run to open a 75-71 lead with 2:24 to go.
The Aggies, who have won five straight at home, countered with a 7-0 run of their own, ignited by a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Diogo Brito. Taylor capped the spurt with a layup to help Utah State open a 78-75 lead with 59 seconds left.
Sophomore guard Sam Merrill iced the game for the Aggies when he knocked down a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining, making it 81-76. Fresno State’s Jahmel Taylor hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, though, to give Utah State its final margin of victory.
Merrill finished with 16 points for the Aggies, while Dargenton and junior forward Dwayne Brown Jr. chipped in 13 and 11, respectively. Brown also had seven rebounds and four assists, helping Utah State outrebound the athletic Bulldogs 37-28, including a 10-6 edge on the offensive glass.
Bryson Williams and Jahmel Taylor joined Deshon Taylor in double-figure scoring for Fresno State with 18 and 14 points apiece, respectively.
Things looked bleak for the Aggies after Fresno State took its largest lead of the night at 69-59 with 4:12 remaining in the second half. However, Utah State closed regulation on a 10-0 run. The Bulldogs were 0-for-4 from the field during that stretch, to go along with Deshon Taylor’s missed free throw.
Both teams shot extremely well from the field as Fresno State connected on 51.6 percent of its shots (32-of-62), including 50.0 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-14). Conversely, Utah State made good on 49.1 percent of its field goal attempts (27-of-55), including 47.4 percent from downtown (9-of-19).
Utah State improved to 34-24 all-time against Fresno State, including 24-7 at home. Furthermore, the Aggies are now 57-46 all-time in overtime contests.
Utah State will return to the road on Saturday, Jan. 6, when it faces UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The game, which is slated to tip off at 8 p.m. (MT), can be seen on AT&T Sports Net (Comcast Ch. 52/693HD, DISH Network Ch. 414, DirecTV Ch. 683) or heard over the Aggie Digital Network.
Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumen’sbasketball) and on Twitter (@usubasketball). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).
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