The Utah State Aggies out-muscled Cal State Bakersfield in the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum Saturday night, winning by a score of 77-58. The Aggies were pleased to come out victorious, but they still will look to improve in certain areas.”We did what we had to do to get a win,” Aggie head coach Stew Morrill said following the game. “We are a long way away from being consistent in our play. We are playing hard. It is not that we aren’t playing hard. We are just sporadic; we miss a lot of open shots and had a lot of turnovers… It is a win. There were some positives.” One of those positives was the job that USU did on the inside. The Aggies absolutely overpowered CS Bakersfield in the low post. Two USU interior players reached double digits in scoring, as Tai Wesley and Nate Bendall put up 16 and 13 points, respectively. Utah State also dominated the Roadrunners on the glass, as they pulled down a whopping 55 rebounds, in comparison to CS Bakersfield’s 27. Bendall and Wesley lead the effort on the boards, with 14 and 12 a piece, to give both players a double-double. The Aggies were able to make the most of their rebounding opportunities, as they scored 19 second-chance points on 19 total offensive rebounds.Bendall and Wesley were able to receive some scoring help from their teammates on the wing, also. Senior guard Tyler Newbold scored a team-high 18 points, on 4-5 shooting from behind the arc, in addition to his four rebounds and two assists. Newbold was also effective as usual on defense, as he was instrumental in holding CS Bakersfield’s leading scorer, Stephon Carter, to four points. Carter came into the game averaging 19.1 points, but he was frustrated and slowed down by Newbold and a host of other Aggie defenders. Newbold was especially aggressive on the offensive end, and he attributed his scoring output to his practice habits.”I have been in the gym shooting up a bunch of shots,” said Newbold. “I have been trying to get more arch on my shot, and I have been trying to hold my follow through a little longer. That is something that I have been working on for a while. Hopefully, I can come out and continue to shoot the ball like I did tonight.”Fellow perimeter player Pooh Williams was the fourth and final Aggie to reach double figures in the scoring department, with 12 points, two rebounds, and one assist. Williams, along with Brockeith Pane, did not start the game because of disciplinary reasons. James Walker III and Brian Green started at the guard positions.”We had a few guys make an error in judgment,” Morrill said when asked about his starting lineup changes. “It was just a responsibility reminder, is how I would put it. I’m not going to get into the particulars, I’m not going to name names… Once in a while, you just have to remind guys of their responsibilities and what is expected.” Despite the large margin of victory, it was not as complete of a game as USU had hoped for. The Aggies played somewhat sloppily as they turned the ball over 14 times and shot 64.5% from the free-throw line. Many of Utah State’s turnovers came in the second half, when CS Bakersfield was playing a full-court, pressure style of defense. In fact, the Aggies were out-scored by a margin of two points in the last 20 minutes of the game. All-in-all, the Aggies missed many open shots on their way to shooting 41% from the field, but they were able to win due to their sheer number of second chance points, and also their defensive dominance in the first half. The Aggies held the Roadrunners to a measly 23% shooting mark before the intermission. Coach Morrill was aware of the improvements the Aggies will need to make, and he will look to focus on some certain areas in the next week of practice. “We have got to get better,” Morrill said. “Next week is finals, so we have all of that going on, but we still have to try and get better. We have to play better at Utah Valley to win, and I really believe that.”The Aggies will have a full week to prepare for their in-state match-up with the Wolverines, as they will travel to Orem next Saturday. Tip-off is slated for 7 PM.
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