Dec. 23, 2009
LOGAN, Utah - Sparked by sophomore center Modou Niang's career night, Utah State collected an 85-73 win over Weber State Wednesday night in the final game of the Basketball Travelers Invitational sponsored by Gossner Foods at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
With the win, USU went 3-0 in the Invitational, while WSU finished at 2-1.
The win also earned the Old Oquirrh Bucket, the symbol of in-state basketball supremacy in Utah, awarded to the in-state team which has the best won-loss record against in-state competition. USU went 5-1 against Beehive State teams, winning the bucket for the eighth time overall.
Wednesday was the Aggies' fifth win in their last six games, improving to 9-4 on the season, while the Wildcats are now 7-6.
It was USU's second win over WSU this season after a 66-60 victory at Ogden in both teams' season-opener on Oct. 13. Utah State has now won nine of the last 10 games in the series, including winning seven in a row at home to improve to 22-8 all-time vs. Weber State at home.
Niang tallied career-highs of 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Junior forward Tai Wesley logged 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while senior guard Jared Quayle posted 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Junior guards Tyler Newbold and Brian Green tossed in nine points each as well. Sophomore forward Brady Jardine added eight points and six rebounds, all in the first half, helping the Aggies to a 46-29 halftime lead, while junior guard Pooh Williams added seven points.
Weber State was led by Damian Lillard's 22 points, including 15 in the second half as well as hitting four three-pointers. Kyle Bullinger added 21 points, while Nick Hansen chipped in 11. Both Bullinger and Hansen hit three treys as the Wildcats went 11-of-25 (44.0 percent) from behind the arc.
Wesley was named the tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Quayle and Williams, along with Weber State's Lillard and Bullinger, in addition to Morehead State's Maze Stallworth and Kenneth Faried.
After the Wildcats scored the first two points of the game on free throws, it was all Aggies, as they hit their first six shots of the night, in opening a 14-2 lead just over three minutes in. The closest Weber State got from there on out was eight points on three different occasions. USU built a lead of as big as 17 three times, first at the 7:13 mark on a Quayle jumper for a 33-16 Aggie advantage, the second at 39-22 with 4:09 to go on a Jardine tip-in and the last in the final second of the half on a three-pointer from Williams in the corner for the 46-29 intermission lead.
The Wildcats clawed back to 55-46 with 13:58 on a layup by Trevor Morris, but back-to-back buckets by Newbold, the second on a soaring tip-in at the 12:04 mark regained control for USU. The Aggies extended their lead to 23 on a long jumper by Green for a 71-48 lead with 8:09 to play.
Weber State cut the gap to 10 at 78-68 with 2:10 on the clock after a three in the left corner from Bullinger, but a pair of Green free throws preceded a three-pointer from Newbold to seal the win.
Utah State ended the night making exactly half of its shots (29-of-58), hitting 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) from three-point range. The Aggies, who entered the week leading the nation in field goal percentage, made 22-of-27 (81.5 percent) Wednesday night, making their first 11 in a row.
Weber State was 21-of-46 (45.7 percent) from the field, as well as 11-of-25 (44.0 percent) behind the arc and 20-of-28 (71.4 percent) at the charity stripe.
USU's bench out-scored its counterparts, 30-13, and the Aggies' 38-27 rebounding advantage included 13 offensive boards while contributed to a 19-6 second-chance points edge. Utah State had a 21-11 points off turnovers edge as well.
The Aggies return to action after Christmas on Tuesday, Dec. 29, hosting Western Oregon in a 7 p.m. tip-off.
For Utah State men's basketball ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305, or online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on the "buy/renew tickets" under the "tickets" drop down menu.
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