by Ashley Springer, USU Athletic Media Relations
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Utah State men's basketball lost, 83-68, to New Mexico on Friday night in its first Mountain West Tournament semifinal game since joining the league.
USU was led by sophomore guard Sam Merrill with 17 points and five assists to go along with three rebounds. Sophomore guard Koby McEwen had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Julion Pearre had 13 points, three steals and a rebound. Junior forward Quinn Taylor recorded 10 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Utah State started the first half strong after jumping out to a 5-2 lead behind a Pearre bucket and Merrill trey with 18:42 left in the half. After a 6-0 New Mexico run, USU responded with a 12 unanswered points after a Pearre free throw, Henson triple, a pair of layups from McEwen, a Merrill jumper and a Taylor layup to put the Aggies up 20-12 with 9:45 on the clock. However, Utah State would not hit another field goal for over eight minutes and the Lobos closed out the half with a 20-3 run to lead 37-26 at the break.
New Mexico opened the second half with an 8-0 run to lead by 20, 46-26, with 18:14 to play. The Lobos extended the lead to 23, 53-30, with 15:41 remaining. Utah State responded with a 9-0 run after a pair of free throws from Pearre, layups from Merrill and Taylor, and a Merrill 3-pointer to come within 14, 53-39, with 12:52 to go. The teams went back-and-forth over the next stretch until USU used an 11-2 run to cut the lead to single digits, 77-68, with 1:51 on the clock after free throws from McEwen, Taylor and Brown along with a Brown trey and McEwen layup. UNM scored the final six points of the game to win it, 83-68.
New Mexico was led by junior guard Troy Simons with 17 points, senior forward Joe Furstinger and senior guard Sam Logwood each had 16 points, and junior guard Chris McNeal with 10.
Utah State finished the game shooting 42.1 percent (24-of-57) from the floor, 29.2 percent (7-of-24) from behind the 3-point line and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) at the free throw line. New Mexico shot 51.9 percent (28-of-54) from the floor, 29.2 percent (7-of-24) from behind the 3-point line and 80.0 percent (20-of-25) at the free throw line.
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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