March 9, 2006
RENO, Nev. - Nate Harris scored 19 points, including 11 in the second half, and added 11 rebounds to lead Utah State to a 76-69 victory against San Jose State in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament here Thursday.
With the win Utah State advanced to Friday's semifinal round and will meet Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. mountain time. The Bulldogs defeated Boise State 75-64 in their first round matchup Thursday.
The Aggies, who are now 22-7 on the year, had four players score in double figures paced by Harris, who hit seven of 10 shots from the field and was a perfect five of five from the free throw line.
The senior post player, who was named first-team all-conference earlier this week, recorded his seventh double-double of the year and reached the 10-point mark for the 27th time in 29 games this season.
Chaz Spicer came off the bench to throw in 15 points, one shy of his career high, as he hit five of six attempts in 21 minutes of play. Aggie guards David Pak and Jaycee Carroll added 12 and 11 points respectively. Carroll chipped in six assists and three steals.
San Jose State was led by Demetrius Brown, who tied his career high with 26 points. Brown also added eight rebounds.
Utah State won its conference tournament opening game for the sixth time in the last seven years and will play in a conference semifinal for the seventh straight year.
Utah State led by as many as 14 points in the first half and as many as 13 in the second half after five straight points by Pak made the score 50-37 with 16:29 remaining in the game. However, the Spartans went on a 21-9 run to cut the margin to 62-61 as Brown scored on a lay-up at the 7:21 mark.
The teams stayed within three points of each other until Harris scored on a layup to put the Aggies up 72-67 with 1:21 left. Carroll hit a short jumper and Pak added two free throws to seal the win.
Utah State shot 55.1 percent from the field, whyile holding the Spartans to 43.8 percent shooting. After committing 11 turnovers in the first half, the Aggies turned it over just six times in the second half, yet finished with 17 miscues.
In addition to shooting well from the field, USU hit 18 of 20 free throws, including eight of nine in the second half. The Aggies did struggle from three-point range, making just four of 16 trey attempts.
The game featured a number of runs as USU went on a 14-0 run in the first half to go ahead 29-14. In the second half SJSU had a 10-0 run before the Aggies responded with a 6-0 run to lead 61-53.
USU will meet Louisiana Tech for the third time this year. USU swept the regular season series winning 64-55 at Logan on Jan. 18 and 63-62 at Rustonon Feb. 4.
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