CONWAY, S. C. – Utah State survived Penn to win in double overtime and advance to the Myrtle Beach Invitational semifinals. The Aggies led for most of the game, but the Quakers gave them a run for their money down the stretch forcing the game into overtime.
The game was tied with 47 seconds left in the second half 64 to 64. After a missed 3-pointer by the Quakers, Utah State got the rebound and took a timeout to organize a game-winning shot opportunity.
Guard Rylan Jones inbounded with 10 seconds left. He found guard RJ Eytle-Rock who drove to the basket but got blocked by Lucas Monroe. Penn took a timeout of their own to get a last-chance shot attempt, but a 3-pointer by Jordan Dingle came up short to send the game to overtime.
The first overtime continued the same neck-and-neck pace of the last five minutes of the second half. Both teams traded baskets and made strong defensive stands. Again, the Aggies fell flat on a last-possession chance. This time, guard Steven Ashworth missed a layup. The Quakers missed a jumper as they ran to the other end sending the frame to another overtime, 73-73.
The Aggies pulled away in the second overtime to win 87 to 79. Utah State stepped up on defense allowing only six points from the Quakers in the period. The Aggies made eight free throws on eight attempts to ice the game.
Forward Justin Bean had a monumental afternoon with 33 points, a career-high, and the 29th double-double of his career. Bean also collected 16 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“The day belongs to Justin,” said USU head men’s basketball coach Ryan Odom. “His effort, his willingness to give his body for his team, his willingness to chase rebounds, his ability to be a go-to guy for us at key times was the difference in the game. It allowed us to kind of outlast them there at the end.”
Bean is the first Aggie to record at least 30 points and at least 15 rebounds in a game since Brian Jackson in 1980-81. Jackson went on to get drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round of the 1981 NBA Draft.
“Anytime I’m out on the court, I’m gonna take advantage and try to do what I can to make winning plays and try help our team get the edge,” Bean said.
Utah State made a significant stride in free throw percentage since going 17-28 in their season opener. They were nearly perfect from the charity stripe going 17-19, including an impressive 11-12 in both overtime periods.
“The free throw shooting was really important to us,” head coach Ryan Odom said. “This particular game, our guys went up to the line and knocked it home. We do have some really good free throw shooters. And so we want to continue to try to exploit that and get to the free-throw line when we can.”
Jones was a significant contributor to the Aggies’ free throw percentage. He went 10 for 10 in the game, including making 6-6 in both overtime periods.
Guard Brock Miller came up with a huge offensive rebound in the first overtime after a missed 3-pointer by Jones. Miller was fouled and made a free throw to tie the game with 1:17 left in the first overtime. Miller shined on defense, limiting his match-up, Quaker guard Jonah Charles, to nine points in the game.
“Brock’s defense on Charles was a really important factor for us going into the game. I was really, really pleased with his effort. That takes a lot to chase guys the way that he did. And to just limit the attempts was a special effort by him,” Odom said.
Forward Brandon Horvath was helped off the floor after suffering an apparent ankle injury early in the second half. He came back in after getting his right ankle taped up, but was slow to get up after taking a tumble a few possessions later. Horvath stuck it out and recorded 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the game.
Utah State’s bench was quiet during the game. They combined for five points, four rebounds and a block in 35 minutes.
The Aggies got to work early putting together a 12-4 lead with 13:40 left in the first half. The Quakers slowly chipped away into the lead and the teams headed to the locker rooms at halftime tied at 28.
Utah State once again started off strongly, building a 12-point lead, 50-38, with 11:56 left in regulation. Penn responded by knocking down 3-pointers and getting defensive stops to get back into the game.
“They came storming back and it seemed that was the afternoon and the way the game was going to go,” Odom said.
Penn took the lead 56 to 55 with 4:55 left in regulation after guard Jordan Dingle completed a four-point play with an and-1. Both sides traded baskets and the lead over the ensuing minutes until Horvath made a layup to tie the game at 64 with 0:47 left in the second half.
“We had to fight back and stay together,” Bean said.
Back and forth basketball continued during the first overtime and it wasn’t until the second overtime where any team could build more than a three-point lead.
The Aggies are back in action Friday, Nov. 19 as they advance to Myrtle Beach Invitational semifinal against New Mexico State. Tipoff is set for 10 a.m. MDT.