BOISE, Idaho - Utah State men's basketball (10-10, 3-4 Mountain West) lost 71-67 to Boise State (16-3, 6-1 Mountain West) on Wednesday night at the Taco Bell Arena.
Sophomore guard Sam Merrill tied his career high with 23 points in the loss, shooting 9-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from behind the arc. Merrill also had five rebounds, two assists, one block and a steal. Three Aggies scored 11 points in sophomore guard Koby McEwen, junior forward Dwayne Brown Jr. and junior guard DeAngelo Isby. McEwen had a season-high eight rebounds to go along with four assists. Sophomore guard Diogo Brito tied his career high of seven rebounds.
Utah State opened the game with a trio of triples, taking a 9-6 lead behind treys by sophomore guard Sam Merrill, junior forward Dwayne Brown Jr., and junior forward Quinn Taylor. The advantage grew to seven points for the Aggies when a Taylor layup put Utah State up 15-8 with 12:59 on the clock. Another 3-point bucket by Merrill ended a 12-4 run by Boise State and gave the Aggies a 22-20 lead with 8:55 to play. The Broncos finished the half with a 17-10 run and took a 37-32 lead into the break.
Utah State opened the second half with back-to-back buckets from Merrill and Brown to cut the lead to one, 37-36, with 19:11 on the clock. After a BSU three, a pair of Taylor layups and a Merrill trey put the Aggies up three, 43-40, with 16:20 left to play. USU continued to build its margin and led by as many as nine, 54-45, after seven straight points from McEwen, and free throws and a jumper by Isby with 11:33 remaining. A BSU 7-0 run put the Broncos ahead, 61-58, with 5:39 on the clock. Utah State responded with a 7-0 run of its own with an Isby basket, Merrill triple and Brown free throws to give USU back the 65-61 lead with 3:18 to go. Boise State proceeded on an 8-0 run to lead by four, 69-65, with 15 seconds left to play. McEwen made a layup with five seconds left, but a pair of BSU free throws gave the Broncos the 71-67 win.
Boise State was led by senior guard Chandler Hutchison and sophomore guard Marcus Dickinson with 16 points, redshirt senior guard Lexus Williams had 14 and sophomore guard Alex Hobbs also put up 14. Hutchison led the Broncos with six rebounds and Hobbs led with four assists.
Utah State finished the game shooting 50.0 percent (26-of-52) from the floor, 34.8 percent (8-of-23) from behind the 3-point line and 87.5 percent (7-of-8) at the free throw line. Boise State shot 46.6 percent (27-of-58) from the floor, 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from behind the 3-point line and 81.8 percent (9-of-11) at the free throw line.
The Aggies will be back on the court hosting Wyoming (11-7, 2-3 MW) at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (MT).
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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