Utah State Aggies head coach Ryan Odom reacts to a name throughout the second half of an NCAA school basketball recreation in opposition to Colorado State Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Fort Collins, Colo. Colorado State beat Utah State 77-72. (Jack Dempsey, Related Press)
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LOGAN — Feelings ran excessive inside for the Utah State basketball crew contained in the Spectrum Saturday night time.
Within the last house recreation of the common season, 4 seniors had been honored earlier than the sport. Justin Bean, Brandon Horvath, Brock Miller and RJ Etyle-Rock walked to heart court docket with their households and gave a quick speech to the group.
The highlight was additionally on sophomore guard Max Shulga, who’s from Kyiv, Ukraine.
To assist his household and nation throughout the ongoing Russian invasion, Shulga draped a Ukrainian flag over himself earlier than the sport. When he checked into the sport, Utah State students held up blue and yellow papers resembling the Ukrainian flag — a number of Aggies gamers wore yellow and blue shoelaces, as effectively.
The feelings had been proven on the court docket because the Aggies performed considered one of their most intense video games of the season in entrance of 9,219 rowdy followers. However it did not translate into effectivity — Utah State shot simply 33% (6 of 18) from the free-throw line, 41.2% from the sector and 28.6% from 3-point vary.
The offensive struggles had been an excessive amount of to beat and Utah State fell to Colorado State 66-55.
“Enjoyable begin to the night time honoring these 4 guys,” Utah State head coach Ryan Odom stated. “It was nice to see their households on the market and all of our Aggie followers supporting them. That was a neat second to listen to these guys speak about their expertise.
“Tough night time for us, just about all-around. … For us, we will not go 6 for 18 from the free-throw line and count on to beat a superb crew; it is simply so simple as that.”
Regardless of the poor offensive numbers, a uncommon alternative for a Quad 1 win at house was alive and effectively into the second half. The Aggies had been enjoying super protection and led 41-37 with 10 minutes left within the recreation.
Then Colorado State flexed its muscle.
Tthe Rams switched right into a zone protection and disrupted the Aggies’ capability to assault the basket. On the opposite finish of the ground, Kendle Moore hit back-to-back 3-pointers to take a 49-41 lead with 6:49 left to play — finishing a 12-0 run by the Rams.
The Aggies clawed again as Etyle-Rock hit a nook 3-pointer to chop the deficit to 2 with 2:52 to play. However switching defenses from man to zone did not decelerate the Rams.
Moore hit a deep 3-pointer with simply over two minutes to play, and Colorado State closed the sport on a 14-5 run to beat the Utah State. Moore completed with a game-high 23 factors and tallied 18 of these factors within the second half. His shock efficiency, together with Utah State’s offensive woes, was an excessive amount of to deal with for the Aggies.
Cool second by USU scholar physique honoring Max Shulga from Ukraine pic.twitter.com/U5skhtfB7Y
— Scott Garrard (@ScottyGZone) February 27, 2022
“He stepped up tonight, he shot lights out, to be sincere,” Etyle-Rock stated. “We did not know he was going to shoot like that. We might have guarded him a lot better. We tried to change up our protection within the second half to enter one thing totally different however we simply stored dropping him.”
Etyle-Rock, and the three different seniors, all made a concerted effort in what often is the last recreation within the Spectrum for every of them.
Etyle-Rock completed with a team-high 14 factors, Horvath had 11 factors, Bean had 10 factors and Miller added 3 factors. The seniors struggled to get nice seems, and Bean was simply 4 of 11 from the sector and Miller was 1 of 5; Horvath went 3 of 10 from the free-throw line.
However the emotional depth wasn’t missing.
Trailing 25-13 with 5:51 left within the first half, capturing beneath 30% from the sector, Utah State turned it on. The Aggies compelled Colorado State star David Roddy to show over the ball and Bean completed with a dunk on the opposite finish. After getting one other cease, Horvath had a poster dunk over Colorado State’s Isaiah Rivera to chop the deficit to 25-17.
On the opposite finish, Roddy tried to cease the run with a dunk of his personal. Standing in his approach was Bean, who rose up and blocked the ball away from the ring — an amazing play that electrified the sector.
“When he will get any window he is going up with it, so I simply tried to fulfill up on the rim,” Bean stated. “Fortunately, he was in a position to make a superb play and received some momentum for the crew and myself.”
The momentum of the play appeared to hold over into the second half. Trailing by 6 factors, Utah State opened the half one 6-0 run, due to a Miller 3-pointer and an and-one layup from Etyle-Rock.
“Our protection form of helped us and allowed us to, going into halftime, have just a little little bit of momentum,” Odom stated.
Finally, the efficiency of Moore and the expertise of the Rams overruled the momentum.
“Apart from (dropping), it was undoubtedly a particular night time right here,” Etyle-Rock stated. “The followers had been nice. I used to be glad my mother was right here. That was a really particular second. All the fellows had been pleased to have fun us seniors. It was very particular.”
Bean added that it was additionally an ideal alternative to spotlight Shulga, who performed for eight minutes and recorded a layup, as he watches what goes on in his native nation.
“Max is an unbelievable particular person,” Bean stated. “His household, clearly, he is pondering of them. He is form of updating us on how they’re doing and he is extra optimistic than others would suppose with what he is going by way of. … I assumed everybody tonight supporting him and praying for the nation — it was simply cool to see that collective unity from the town and the group.”
Utah State (16-14, 7-10) closes out the common season at San Jose State Friday earlier than the Mountain West Event in Las Vegas the week after.