Lightning strikes USU twice
For the second time in three games, the Utah State basketball team suffered defeat as time expired after Craig Cusick lifted BYU to a 70-68 win over the Aggies on a second-chance putback as time ran out.
“It was one of those games where a couple plays here and there and it’s a different outcome,” said head coach Stew Morrill. “We make some free throws, it sure would have helped. If you look at our stats, we did a lot of things right.”
Junior Jarred Shaw scored USU’s first nine points but turnovers and poor free throw shooting plagued the Aggies throughout the first half. The Cougars got a big first half from sophomore Tyler Haws. The 6-foot-5 guard scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the first 20 minutes, including 10-of-12 free throws.
The Aggies committed 11 turnovers in the first half, leading to a 9-point deficit going into the intermission, but Utah State chipped away in the second half.
“We just talked,” Butterfield said. “We had good communication on defense. We knew who had who and we just were moving around.”
Sophomore Jordan Stone had a strong night for the Aggies, scoring nine points offensively and recording three blocks at the defensive end.
“It’s just trying to always be ready,” Stone said. “You never what’s going to happen, if I’m going to get in foul trouble or someone else. Sometimes it happens and I just have to be ready for whatever comes. Someone gets in foul trouble, someone has to step up.”
Despite foul trouble, Butterfield stepped up for USU in the second half with 17 of his team-high 21 points, including a pair of free throws to tie the game at 68 with less than a minute remaining.
BYU pulled down an offensive rebound with 35 seconds left, and after a timeout played for the final shot. Sophomore guard Matt Carlino took a 3-point attempt with two seconds left, but the long rebound fell to Cusick for his only make of the night.
“We couldn’t have asked for it better,” Butterfield said. “We had a chance to get the rebound and take it into overtime and hopefully get the win but it just didn’t happen tonight.”
The Aggies outrebounded the Cougars 39-33 on the night and shot 44.2 percent from the field, compared to 35.2 percent for BYU. Unfortunately for the Aggies, missed free throws and foul trouble caught up with them.
In a game that saw 51 total fouls, USU had five of its eight players finish with at least four fouls, including Shaw who fouled out with two minutes remaining. The Aggies also went 17-of-27 from the free throw line while the Cougars were 28-of-33.
Utah State dropped to 18-7 overall with the loss and remained at 9-5 in conference play. The Aggies play their second consecutive non-conference game this week when they host Illinois State on Saturday in what will be the final year of ESPN bracketbusters.
“We’re disappointed,” Butterfield said. “I know we fought back, we were down early. We pulled together as a family. We just came so close so right now we’re just a little disappointed. But we’ll pick it back up, we’ll be alright, we’ll bounce back.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
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