by Ashley Springer, Utah State Athletic Media Relations
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State men’s basketball (13-15, 7-10 Mountain West) won 89-58 against Air Force (11-18, 4-12 Mountain West) Saturday night, celebrating Senior Night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Saturday’s game honored Aggie seniors Jalen Moore, Shane Rector and Connor Garner. Moore led USU with a career-high-tying 24 points and also had five rebounds and three assists. Moore’s 24 moved him to the No. 9 spot on the all-time scoring list with 1,585 career points, passing Tony Brown (1999-02). Garner had a career-high nine points as well as two rebounds and an assist. Rector finished the game with six points, five assists and a steal.
Freshman guard Sam Merrill led Utah State with a career-high nine assists on zero turnovers, along with 12 points, two rebounds and a steal. Sophomore forward Quinn Taylor had 13 points, five rebounds and a steal. Freshman guard Koby McEwen led the Aggies with eight rebounds, and added eight points and matched his career high of six assists. In total, USU had 27 assists on 34 made baskets.
Utah State broke open the game with a 9-3 start in which all Aggie seniors scored, capped by a Garner three with 14:51 to play in the first. A Moore trey and an and-1 from Taylor put the Aggies up 10, 15-5, with 13:06 remaining in the half. After trading buckets, Moore and McEwen each hit a pair of triples to give the Aggies the 33-18 lead with 7:40 to go in the first half. USU closed out the half with an 11-3 run, sparked by a Taylor layup, followed by a trey from Merrill, a Rector layup, a Merrill jumper and finished by a Moore layup to lead 46-26 at the half. Air Force did not score in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the half as the Aggies were draining threes in the first, shooting 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from behind the arc.
The Falcons ended their scoring drought with a layup to start the second half, bu Utah State responded with a 7-0 run in 37 seconds by way of a McEwen layup, Merrill three and a dunk from redshirt sophomore wing Alexis Dargenton to lead 53-28 with 18:28 to play. The Aggies continued to build their lead and a Garner trey put the Aggies up 31, 70-39, with 11:07 remaining. After some back-and-forth scoring, a jumper from sophomore forward Norbert Janicek and a pair of free throws from Merrill gave the Aggies the 79-47 lead. Free throws from Dargenton and Moore, a Moore 3-pointer and a layup by freshman guard Diogo Brito sealed the 31-point victory, 89-58.
The Falcons were led by senior forward Hayden Graham with 21 points and six rebounds, along with one assist and steal. Freshman forward Lavelle Scottie had 10 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Utah State finished the game shooting 59.6 percent (34-of-57), including 52.0 percent (13-of-25) from behind the arc, while shooting 80.0 percent (8-of-10) from the free throw line. Air Force shot 40.7 percent (22-of-54) from the floor, 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from behind the 3-point line and 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from the free throw line.
USU’s regular season finale will be at UNLV (10-19, 3-13 Mountain West) on Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and tipoff is set for 9 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 at youtube.com/UtahStateAthletics. Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program at Twitter @USUAthletics, on Facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics, or on Instagram @USUAthletics.
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