March 6, 2010
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State celebrated its third-straight Western Athletic Conference regular-season championship and "Senior Night" with an 81-63 squashing of New Mexico State Saturday night at a sold-out Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The home Aggies used a 14-0 run overlapping halftime and held NMSU without a field goal for 7:25 in the second-half as USU won for the 15th game in a row.
Before the game, Utah State honored its lone senior, guard Jared Quayle, who tallied 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists in his final game at the Spectrum.
The navy-clad Aggies' avenged a 55-52 loss at New Mexico State back on Jan. 2 in both teams' WAC-openers. After USU lost at Louisiana Tech two nights later, the northern Aggies haven't lost since, running their win streak to 15, their longest of the season, the fourth-longest in school history and the second-longest current streak in the country behind Butler's 19 in a row. USU has won 19 of its last 21 games after opening the season with a 6-4 record.
Additionally, USU has won 14-straight WAC games and 32 of its last 36 WAC contests as well as winning 24-consecutive WAC games at home and 33 of its last 34, finishing home action with an 8-0 league record and 17-1 overall.
Utah State ends regular-season play 25-6 overall and with a 14-2 WAC ledger, and will be the top seed at next week's WAC Tournament at Reno, Nev., opening against eighth-seeded Boise State on Thursday, March 11 at 1 p.m. (MT).
New Mexico State has a 19-11 regular-season record and an 11-5 WAC mark, losing for the second-game in a row after a 100-92 loss at Nevada Thursday, a loss that clinched the regular-season title for USU. Saturday's loss coupled with Nevada's 79-68 win over LA Tech leaves the southern Aggies as the third seed, and will play sixth-seeded San Jose State in the final game of the first round on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. (MT).
Saturday was Utah State's fourth-straight win over New Mexico State at Logan and the northern-Aggies have won five of the last seven games in the series and hold a 33-26 all-time advantage.
USU improved to 19-2 this year when Quayle posts double-figures. Quayle was joined in double-digits scoring by junior forward Tai Wesley's season-high 24 points while sophomore forward Brady Jardine added 10 points off the bench. Quayle's seven rebounds led USU while Jardine, Wesley and junior forward Nate Benall all pulled down six boards apiece, helping the home team to a slight 32-31 rebounding edge, but USU had a dominating 12-1 second-chance points advantage.
New Mexico State was led by Jahmar Young's 17 points while Troy Gillenwater tossed in 14 off the bench and Hamidu Rahman added 13 points. Wendell McKines pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.
Utah State missed its first four field goal attempts, but righted the ship and finished the night 30-of-59 (50.8 percent), making 16-of-29 (55.2 percent) in the second half. USU, which entered the game leading the nation in three-point percentage, was just 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) behind the arc, its third-lowest percentage. However, the five treys was enough to improve to 21-0 in the last 25 games when making five or more. The home Aggies also were 16-of-20 (80.0 percent) at the free throw line, its 14th outing this season making at least 80 percent at the free pitch stripe.
New Mexico State shot 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) in the first half, but cooled off in the second half, to the tune of 37.0 percent (10-of-27), ending the night 22-of-50 (44.0 percent). The visitors were also 4-of-16 (25.0 percent) behind the arc and were 15-of-23 (65.2 percent) at the charity stripe.
A back-and-forth first half saw seven lead changes and three ties, with NMSU jumping ahead and holding the lead until the home Aggies took their first lead of the game at 18-17 on a long jumper from Jardine at the 10:49 mark. After another long Jardine jumper put USU ahead by three, a Rahman dunk was NMSU's first field goal in its last nine attempts. The maroon Aggies later took a 30-27 lead on another dunk by Rahman with 2:43 to go.
That would be NMSU's last lead and last points for awhile, as another Jardine jumper sparked USU's 14-0 run to overlap halftime. With 36 seconds left in the half, Jardine and Young got tangled up on a loose ball and Young was assessed a technical with Quayle hitting the ensuing free throws for a 34-30 USU lead which the home team took into the locker room, improving to 23-2 when leading at intermission.
The Utah State spurt continued after halftime, stretching to 41-30 on a layup by junior guard Pooh Williams, two of his seven points on the night. NMSU cut the gap to 44-40 with 13:37 remaining on a pair of free throws by Gillenwater, but that would be the closest the visitors would get.
Gillenwater later hit a layup with 10:48 to make it 53-46, which would be NMSU's last field goal until there was 3:23 left in the game, making nine free throws in between, but not before Utah State opened a 79-53 lead, its second 26-point advantage and its largest of the night. McKines hit a layup with 3:23 to play to end the drought, but it was not enough as the home team coasted to the victory and sparking the celebration, WAC regular-season champion trophy presentation and cutting of the nets.
Wesley tied a season-high with six assists, while junior guard Tyler Newbold dished out five helpers, part of USU's 23 assists, the navy Aggies' second-straight game with at least 20 assists and the 10th time this season.
Utah State committed just six turnovers, its sixth-straight single-digit miscue outing and 13th of the year.
The northern Aggies surpassed 70 points for the 19th time this season, moving to 19-0 and winning 23 straight games when hitting the 70-point mark.
For WAC Tournament ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
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