March 12, 2014
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Utah State used a 16-3 run over the final 1:35 of regulation to post an improbable 73-69 win against ninth-seeded Colorado State in an opening round game of the 2014 Reese's Mountain West Men's Basketball Championships held here Wednesday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.
Utah State improves to 18-13 with the win, including posting victories in all three of its meetings with Colorado State this year. CSU ends its season with a 16-16 record.
USU will now face top-seeded and eighth-ranked San Diego State in the first of four Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, March 13 at 1 p.m. (MT).
Senior guard Preston Medlin led eighth-seeded Utah State with 17 points and five assists as he was 7-of-17 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from three-point range. Senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield added 14 points, six rebounds and five assists as he was 3-of-9 shooting from the field and 2-of-7 from behind the arc, but hit all six of his free throw attempts. Guard TeNale Roland joined his fellow seniors in also scoring in double-figures for USU as he finished with 14 points, making 5-of-7 field goals, including converting 4-of-5 three-pointers.
Dwight Smith scored a career-high 21 points to lead Colorado State, while Jon Octeus had 19 points and J.J. Avila added 10 points.
Trailing by nine points at 66-57 with 1:35 to play in the game, Utah State began its historic comeback with a layup by Roland to cut the deficit to seven. Following a missed free throw by Smith, freshman forward Jalen Moore hit a three-pointer to trim the Rams' lead to four points at 66-62 with 0:59 remaining. Moore then forced a turnover and grabbed an offensive rebound on USU's next possession that led to a Butterfield three-pointer. With the Aggies trailing 66-65 with 0:41.7 left, Colorado State's Daniel Bejarano was called for a technical foul and Butterfield made both free throws to give USU a 67-66 lead. The Rams turned it over again on its next possession and Moore hit two free throws to increase the Aggies lead to three points at 69-66 with 0:22.7 remaining. From there, Butterfield made four-straight free throws to give USU the come-from-behind 73-69 win.
Utah State finished the game shooting just 40.0 percent (24-60), but did tie its season-high with 11 made three-pointers as it shot 52.4 percent from behind the arc (11-21). USU was also 14-of-19 (.737) from the free throw line, including going 8-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final 0:40. Colorado State shot 42.9 percent (27-63), but just 17.6 percent from behind the arc (3-17) and 66.7 percent at the line (12-18). USU also out-rebounded CSU by one (37-36) and had three more assists (14-11) in the game, while the Rams had seven more blocked shots (7-0) and three fewer turnovers (9-6).
Utah State jumped out to an early 8-3 lead as Butterfield had the first five points of the game for the Aggies. USU pushed its advantage to 14-5 following a hook shot from senior center Jarred Shaw at the 15:49 mark and later took its largest lead of the game at 24-14 with 9:45 to play following a pair of free throws from Moore. From there, Colorado State ended the half on a 17-7 run to send both teams into the locker room tied at 31-all.
Utah State, who started the game making eight of its first 14 field goals, finished the half making just two of its final 15 attempts as it shot just 34.5 percent in the first-half (10-of-29). USU did shoot 45.5 percent from three-point range (5-of-11) in the first half and was 6-of-9 (.667) from the free throw line. Colorado State shot 36.4 percent in the first half (12-of-33), including 16.7 percent from behind the arc (2-of-12) and 55.6 percent at the charity stripe (5-of-9). Medlin and sophomore forward Kyle Davis each had six points for USU, while Smith had 13 points to lead the Rams.
Colorado State scored the first four points of the second-half and increased its advantage to seven points at 46-39 with 13:59 to play. USU scored the next six points to get within one at 46-45, but CSU scored eight of the next 10 points to push its advantage to seven at 54-47 with 8:26 to play. The Rams increased its lead to 10 points with 2:40 remaining and led by nine at 66-57 with 1:35 remaining before the Aggies' comeback.
The Mountain West has partnered with Experience (expapp.com) to provide the opportunity to purchase seat upgrades through fan engagement technology for individuals attending the 2014 Reese's Mountain West Men's Basketball Championships, scheduled for March 12-15 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Beginning March 12, fans may visit mw.expapp.com from their smartphones to opt-in to receive text message notifications when seat upgrades become available at the tournament. Single-game tickets will also be available for purchase via the smartphone app on the day of the game.
In addition, individuals who have purchased all-session ticket packages for the entire tournament will have an opportunity to return any unused men's basketball championship tickets in exchange for Conoco gasoline gift cards and discounted merchandise on the online MW store. The gasoline cards will also be redeemable at Phillips 66 and 76 stations.
Complete tournament information for the 2014 Reese's Mountain West Championships can be found at www.themw.com.
Fans can follow the Aggie men's basketball program at twitter.com/AggieHoops. USU fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics, on facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics.
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