ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Sophomore guard Sam Merrill scored a career-high 33 points in Utah State men's basketball's (14-13, 7-7 MW) 78-63 loss to New Mexico (13-14, 8-6 MW) Wednesday night at the Dreamstyle Arena.
Merrill shot 11-of-16 from the floor, including 7-of-8 from the 3-point line and 4-of-4 from the free throw line during the night en route to his career high. Sophomore guard Koby McEwen recorded 10 points, six boards, one assist, one block and a steal. Sophomore guard Diogo Brito tied his career high of seven rebounds to go along with nine points, three assists and a steal.
New Mexico opened the game with back-to-back baskets, taking a 5-0 lead, but a McEwen 3-point bucket opened a 12-2 run by the Aggies, giving Utah State a 12-7 lead at the second media timeout. USU continued to lead until 3:12 on the clock when a 3-point basket by UNM’s Anthony Mathis gave the Lobos a 28-27 lead. The shot was the first of 11 straight points by Mathis, giving the home side a 36-32 lead with 22 seconds on the clock. However, a buzzer-beating layup by junior guard DeAngelo Isby as time expired in the first half put the Aggies within two going into the break, 36-34.
A dunk by junior forward Quinn Taylor and a pair of Merrill treys gave the Aggies a 42-36 lead with 17:54 on the clock. New Mexico countered with a seven-point run, giving Lobos a one-point advantage, 43-42, with 16:17 to go. After a Merrill layup put USU up 45-43 with 14:30 remaining, the Aggies would go without a field goal for over eight and a half minutes. Brito ended the drought with a three to make it an eight-point ball game, 65-57, with 5:48 left to play. UNM maintained the lead, and after a Merrill 3-pointer brought it back to eight points, 71-63, with 2:42 to go, the Lobos closed it out with a 7-0 run to win it, 78-63.
New Mexico was led by junior guard Anthony Mathis with 25 points, freshman guard Makuach Maluach with 16 points, junior guard Chris McNeal and senior forward Sam Logwood with 10 points apiece.
Utah State finished the game shooting 51.3 percent (20-of-39) from the floor, 50.0 percent (10-of-20) from behind the 3-point line and 76.5 percent (13-of-17) at the free throw line. New Mexico shot 46.2 percent (30-of-65) from the floor, 39.3 percent (11-of-28) from behind the 3-point line and 77.8 percent (7-of-9) at the free throw line.
Utah State returns to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday as the Aggies take on Nevada (21-5, 10-2 MW) at 4 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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