by Ashley Springer, USU Athletic Media Relations
SPOKANE, Wash. - Utah State men's basketball (2-2) lost 79-66 to No. 17 Gonzaga (3-0) Saturday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Sophomore guard Sam Merrill led the Aggies with a season-high 19 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Junior guard DeAngelo Isby had 13 points, four rebounds and two assists. Sophomore guard Diogo Brito had career highs in points and rebounds, with 11 and seven, respectively.
Utah State led for most of the first half, 12:18 of the 20 minutes. In that half, the Aggies shot 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from behind the arc. Utah State out-rebounded the 'Zags 20-16, including eight offensive boards which resulted in 15 second-chance points.
In the first half, Gonzaga started with a 4-0 lead with 19:09 to play, but Merrill responded with a trey with 18:43 to go. The Aggies took their first lead, 6-4, after junior forward Dwayne Brown Jr. knocked down a three with 17:45 to go. An Isby bucket and triple, followed by a pair of Merrill threes gave Utah State the 17-11 lead with 14:52 remaining in the half.
Gonzaga came back and a three put the Bulldogs up, 20-18, but a bucket by senior forward Alex Dargenton tied it back up at 20 with 11:47 left in the first. The teams continued trading buckets, but after being tied up at 24, the Aggies put together a 15-7 run to take a 39-31 lead with 5:22 to play in the first half. However, the Bulldogs responded with an 11-0 run to take the lead, 42-39, with 1:45 to play in the first half. Free throws from Merrill and Isby tied it back up at 42-42 with just over a minute to go in the first. A Gonzaga three with five seconds left gave the Bulldogs the 45-42 lead going into the break.
After a Dargenton free throw and Brito layup, GU extended its lead to six, 51-45, with 16:30 left to play. A Merrill layup brought it back to four, 51-47, with 16:12 left in the game. A pair of Bulldog free throws brought it back to six, 53-47, but a Miller trey and Brito layup cut it to one, 53-52, with 14:07 remaining. Gonzaga proceeded on a 7-0 run, ended by Merrill with a couple of layups, including an and-1, to cut the lead to three, 60-57, with 10:27 left in the game. The Bulldogs would break open the game, though, with a 17-0 run, to lead by 20, 77-57, with 5:19 remaining. The Aggies ended the streak with a 9-0 run of their own after Isby hit a couple threes and Dargenton knocked down a few free throws to bring the score within 11, 77-66, with about a minute and a half left to play. Gonzaga went on to win, 79-66.
Gonzaga was led by sophomore forward Killian Tillie with 20 points and nine rebounds, along with two assists, two blocks and a steal. Senior guard Silas Melson had 12 points, four boards, three assists and three steals. Freshman forward Corey Kispert had 12 points, nine rebounds and an assist. Redshirt junior guard Josh Perkins had 11 points, three assists two boards and a steal.
Utah State finished the game shooting 39.0 percent (23-of-59), including 40.7 percent (11-of-27) from behind the arc, while shooting 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from the free throw line. Gonzaga shot 43.8 percent (28-of-64) from the floor, 27.8 percent (5-of-18) from behind the 3-point line and 90.0 percent (18-of-20) from the free throw line.
Utah State will next face Portland State (3-0) on Monday at the Memorial Coliseum. Tip-off is set for 8 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 (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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