5:30 PM ET, March 9, 2006
Lawlor Events Center, Reno, Nevada
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Nate Harris led four players in double figures with 19 points and 11 rebounds as Utah State hung on to beat San Jose State 76-69 Thursday to keep the Aggies' postseason hopes alive by advancing to the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.Chaz Spicer scored 15 points, David Pak 12 and Jaycee Carroll 11 for the Aggies (22-7), who made 18-of-20 free throws and used an 18-1 run to build a 37-25 halftime lead. Harris made 7-of-10 from the field and all five free-throw attempts to go with two assists and two blocked shots.Demetrius Brown scored 17 of his game-high 26 points in the second half for the Spartans (6-25), who shot just 28 percent from the field the first half but made a 10-0 run midway through the second half to pull to within 68-67 with 2:38 to go.Utah State, which has won 21 games or more in each of the past seven seasons, will face Louisiana Tech (20-11) in Friday night's semifinal. The winner of the league tourney title gets an automatic invitation to the NCAA tourney.Utah State coach Stew Morrill declined to comment after the game on whether he thought his team deserves an at-large bid to the NCAAs if it fails to win the conference tournament. But he was adamant that more than one WAC team should be invited."I learned a long time ago not to try and predict what might happen with selection things," said Morrill, whose team is in its first season in the WAC."A couple years ago, we were ranked in the top 25 and 17-1 in league (Big West Conference) and lost in the semifinals and we didn't get in. So we can't control that," he said.Morrill said the WAC is every bit as deserving as other conferences across the country expecting to get multiple invites to the NCAA tournament."I'm hearing all this about the Missouri Valley getting three, four five teams in and the Colonial is going to get two or three," Morrill said."I know the Missouri Valley is tough. I know the Colonial is tough. I am not trying to put them down. But if our league is indeed ranked ninth in the country, we should have more than one," he said."In the Big West Conference, we always knew we were only going to get one. We were 18th out of 31 leagues. One of the things in coming to the WAC was that this league would get more than one. OK, well give us more than one, dammit.""Isn't that supposed to be the deal? This is a good league. This league deserves more than one. I will say that. There is no question about that," he said.Leading 37-25 at the half, Pak hit a pair of 3-pointers then stole an inbounds pass and scored to put Utah State ahead 50-37 early in the second half.Carroll's 3-pointer made it 53-40 at 14:54 but the Spartans scored 10 unanswered points capped by Tyree Gardner's layup off a steal to cut it to 53-50 at 11:53.Spicer's steal and basket put the Aggies up 61-53 at 9:21. But Gardner and Carlton Spencer followed with 3-pointers and Brown's put-back cut Utah State's lead to 62-61 at 7:20.Carroll's jumper put Utah State up 68-65 but Brown answered inside to make it 68-67 at 2:38.Durrall Peterson made a pair of free throws for a 70-67 lead and Harris scored inside to make it 72-67 with 1:21 left. Brown scored again inside to pull to 72-69 with 56 seconds to go, but Carroll scored inside at :31 and Pak hit both ends of a one-and-one with 14 seconds left to seal the win."We made a run in the second half but couldn't get over the hump," said San Jose State coach George Nessman, who lost starter Alex Elam in the first half with a broken hand."This is a disappointing end to our season.State is the better team. They beat us three times this season," he said.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||28-64 (.438)||27-49 (.551)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-20 (.250)||4-16 (.250)|
|FT Made-Attempted||8-13 (.615)||18-20 (.900)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||14 (0/0)|