Better late than never: Aggies knock off Rams in final minute
With two minute and 40 seconds left in the game on Wednesday the Aggies season didn’t look like it was hanging in the balance, it appeared over. Down 11, Utah State seemed to be on its way to an early exit from it’s first Mountain West Tournament.
However due to a handful of three’s, free throws, steals and even a technical foul the Aggies pulled out a 73-69 win.
“I've been coaching a long time. I've never been a part of something like that,” said USU head coach Stew Morrill. “That was wild.”
With :59 seconds remaining in the game, the Aggies pulled out an eight-point swing in an 18-second flurry that left them up by one. Freshman Jalen Moore started the scoring with a three-pointer, he then stole the inbound pass and found Preston Medlin, who missed the shot. However, Moore was there again to pull down the rebound and find Spencer Butterfield who sunk a three-pointer.
“Those were huge plays. I feel like without those plays we wouldn't have won,” said Medlin about Moore’s play down the stretch. “That carries over to everybody on the team when a guy is hustling and rebounding, a guy still believes. He did that for us tonight. That was really helpful.”
With his team’s lead suddenly cut to one point, Colorado State guard Daniel Bejarano committed a technical foul that sent Butterfield to the line. Butterfield made both shots and the Aggies took a lead that they did not surrender.
Head official Randy McCall issued a written statement following the game to clarify the call.
“Following the made basket by Utah State, [Bejarano] from Colorado State began taunting [Jarred Shaw]. When [Shaw] from USU turned around to walk away, [Bejarano] from CSU began taunting another Utah State athlete. [Bejarano] was assessed a class A unsporting technical foul based on Rule 10 Section 3 Article 1B.”
In the ensuing 40 seconds of the game Utah State would make eight free throws, six for Butterfield and two for Moore to end up winning by four points. The Aggies finished the game on a 16-3 run.
“Well, you know, I thought we were the tougher team for 38 minutes. Unfortunately, it's a 40?minute game. Give Utah State all the credit,” said Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy. “We just couldn't make the plays down the stretch, and they certainly did.”
USU lead by 10 points with 9:45 left in the first half, but Colorado State came back to tie it at halftime. The Aggies did not lead in the second half until there was 40 seconds left in the game.
“I think we just stayed really positive,” Butterfield said. “Every timeout we were telling each other, ‘we got this, we're going to make our run, stay patient, confidence in ourselves.’”
The Aggies have less than 24 hours to prepare for No. 10 San Diego State, who they play at 1 p.m. MST Thursday. The Aggies lost to San Diego State twice already this year.
“I think we'll have that confidence going into the game,” Butterfield said. “It's hard to beat a team three times. Hopefully we can prepare and get ready for them tomorrow.”
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