by Ashley Springer, USU Athletic Media Relations
OREM, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball (5-4) posted an 80-79 overtime victory over Utah Valley (5-4) on Saturday night as senior guard Shane Rector canned two free throws with one second on the clock for the win.
Freshman guard Koby McEwen had a career-high 21 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists and a steal. Rector had a season-high 18 points and a career-high tying five rebounds, in addition to two assists, two steals and a block. Sophomore forward Norbert Janicek had career highs in rebounds and assists with eight and four, respectively, along with seven points.
Senior wing Jalen Moore scored in double figures for the 22nd consecutive game with 15 points, moving to the No. 20 spot on the all-time scoring list with 1, 266 points to tie Bob Lauriski (1971-73).
Utah State began the game with five turnovers over the course of its opening possessions, but the teams were tied at 5-5 going into the first media timeout as Utah Valley was just 1-of-5 from the floor over the same stretch. The Wolverines broke the tie with back-to-back free throws out of the break and then extended the margin to double-digits, 23-12, with 10:01 to play in the first -half.
Utah State countered with a 9-2 run to come to within 25-21, capped by a layup by redshirt sophomore forward Alexis Dargenton with 7:28 on the clock. The difference was four two more times over the next two minutes, until a layup by the Wolverines put the home side up 38-30 with 1:36 on the clock. McEwen hit a pair of free throws going into the half, getting the Aggies to within six, 38-32, going into the break.
Freshman guard Sam Merrill knocked down a corner trey to start off the second half, cutting UVU’s lead 38-35, with 19 and a half minutes to play. The Aggies then tied the game at 42-42 behind a dunk by Moore, followed by an and-1 by McEwen on a layup with 16:28 to play. The Wolverines proceeded to lead by six, but a three from junior guard Julion Pearre, layup from McEwen and a dunk by Moore cut the lead to one, 54-53, with 11:26 to play.
USU and UVU then traded buckets until the Aggies scored four straight to tie the game at 64-64 with 3:45 to play. Utah State got its first lead of the night off of a driving dunk from Rector, 71-70, with just over a minute left. Utah Valley tied it back up in the next possession. The game remained tied to close out the half, sending it into overtime for the Aggies’ first overtime game since the 2014-15 season.
Janicek made a free throw to get the first point in the overtime period, putting the Aggies up 72-71. A Moore layup with 3:12 remaining gave the Aggies the 74-73 lead. The Wolverines scored the next four points to take a 77-74 advantage with 1:19 left, but Rector and Janicek responded with layups to lead 78-77 with 25 seconds on the clock. UVU countered with a layup with 7.5 seconds left to take the lead back, 79-78. Rector was fouled on the next possession and made both free throws to seal the 80-79 victory with 1.6 seconds to play. The free throws were the third time in his career that he has hit last second free throws on the road to give Utah State the win.
The Wolverines were led by sophomore guard Conner Toolson with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Redshirt junior forward Isaac Neilson had 16 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. Redshirt senior guard Jordan Poydras had 16 points and redshirt junior guard Brandon Randolph had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Utah State finished the game shooting 40.8 percent (29-of-71), including 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from behind the 3-point line, while shooting 66.7 percent (16-of-24) from the free throw line. Utah Valley shot 44.4 percent (28-of-63) from the floor, 20 percent (4-of-20) from behind the 3-point line and 76 percent (19-of-25) from the free throw line.
The Aggies will next face New Orleans (4-3) on Dec. 19 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (MT).
For Aggie basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the “Buy Tickets” tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook facebook.com/USUmen’sbasketball and on Twitter @Aggiehoops. Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube at youtube.com/UtahStateAthletics. Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program at Twitter @USUAthletics, on Facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics, or on Instagram @USUAthletics.
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