LOGAN – The losing streak is finally over.
After dropping four-straight games the Utah State basketball team was finally able to get a win. Four Aggies scored double figures in the 78-65 home victory against Fresno State Saturday night.
In the days leading up to the game head coach Tim Duryea emphasized to his team the importance of playing aggressive for a full 40 minutes. His words seemed to stick.
“Our guys played hard tough, lost edge for one stretch, but then we came back and got it right back,” he said. “I told them after the game that I thought they deserved to win.”
Duryea said he felt better about the way his team played near the basket. The Aggies had 34 points in the paint; many of those went to sophomore forward Norbert Janicek, who had a season-best 14 points and eight rebounds.
“(Janicek) was really good, he got some chances,” Duryea said. “That’s been as big of a thing as anything. In some of the games we just haven’t been able to get him the ball.”
Janicek said the plan to get him the ball inside wasn’t anything new.
“I think it just kind of worked out today,” he said. “We are always trying to play inside-out.”
In addition to Janicek and McEwen, Shane Rector and Jalen Moore each surpassed the 10-point mark. Moore scored 17, Rector added 14. McEwen and Merrill each tied Janicek with eight boards.
USU took the lead eight minutes into the game and went up 37-29 early in the second half. A 7-0 Bulldog run cut the score to a single point, but sophomore forward Alexis Dargenton got the momentum back. His block helped set up Sam Merrill free throws. Immediately after he got a steal and assist to Jalen Moore.
“Those plays kind of came in one little juncture where we needed to get the game turned the other way,” Duryea said.
The run put the Aggies back up by seven. Less than three minutes later, it was up to 13. McEwen was able to increase the lead with a couple crowd-energizing 3-point shots down the stretch.
The first was in transition. McEwen bolted down the floor with a defender on him. He abruptly stopped a few feet behind the arc, but Bulldog guard Deshon Taylor didn’t. As Taylor slid forward, McEwen calmly pulled the trigger.
“When I saw I had so much space I was like, ‘You would shoot this in a different situation if you had so much space. Why not shoot it now?’” he said. “I just shot it and I got lucky and it went in.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-video” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr” xml:lang=”en”>There goes that man!! <a href=”https://twitter.com/McewenKoby”>@mcewenkoby</a> from downtown. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/AggiesAllTheWay?src=hash”>#AggiesAllTheWay</a> <a href=”https://t.co/OyytVvfy9N”>pic.twitter.com/OyytVvfy9N</a>
— USU Men’s Hoops (@USUBasketball) <a href=”https://twitter.com/USUBasketball/status/825547512710696960″>January 29, 2017</a></blockquote>
The second one took place even further behind the arc. As the shot clock was running out, McEwen ducked under the defender’s arms and launched the ball toward the hoop.
“It was just my instincts taking over,” he said. “Usually when that happens, good things happen. When I think too much I’m not a very good basketball player.”
The win put USU at 3-6 in conference and 9-11 overall. The Aggies will stay in town and host Nevada Wednesday.