Ags run by Western Oregon; Berger returns to team
Emotional game goes USU's way in second half
Published: Saturday, December 8, 2012
Updated: Sunday, December 9, 2012 01:12
Utah State junior forward Danny Berger had a big impact on Utah State’s 86-57 win over Western Oregon in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday.
The reason probably wasn’t his first choice.
Though he sat at the end of the bench in his letterman jacket and arm sling, Berger made his return to the hardcourt five days after going into cardiac arrest during practice Tuesday.
He was welcomed by signs in the student section and given a standing ovation before tipoff. He was welcomed by his teammates with a dominant victory.
Berger even got his hands on some leather midway through the first half when an errant ball found its way out of bounds and into his hands.
“It’s great to have Danny in the building,” said USU head coach Stew Morrill.
Starting in Berger’s place, Aggie guard Spencer Butterfield filled the stat sheet, putting up 10 points, grabbing eight rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block.
Western Oregon shooter Tyler Funk had three 3-pointers within two minutes in the first half to cut the USU lead to four with 6:48 to go in the half, but Aggie junior guard Preston Medlin ended the half with five points on two-straight possessions to give Utah State a 38-31 lead going into the break.
Freshman backup point guard Marcel Davis led the Aggies at the half with eight points, three rebounds and a steal in eight minutes of floor time.
He finished with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal in unquestionably his best game thus far in an Aggie uniform.
Davis said he’s worked on building his confidence most in practice.
“I just try to come into the game with a lot of energy,” he said. “I just try to take what the defense is giving me.”
Medlin took over in the second half, finishing with 18 points and helping the Aggies to a massive 30-point lead late in the game.
“A lot of defenses key off of Preston because he is so good at attacking the rim and shooting from the perimeter,” Davis said. “Preston set up a lot of plays for me tonight.”
Western Oregon head coach Brady Berguson said one of USU’s biggest strengths is the ability to play at a consistent level.
“Utah State is a standard in the mid-major world,” he said. “We didn’t want just any old Division I school, but somebody that we could count on to execute at an elite level.”
Despite the win, Morrill said the Aggies are a long way away from being a good Western Athletic Conference team.
“This team’s only got 10 practices until conference play and they need to make the most of them,” he said. “We’ve got a ways to go.”
Utah State will travel to Orem and take on the Utah Valley Wolverines on Saturday at 7 p.m.