LOGAN, Utah – A new era of Utah State men’s basketball was officially ushered in Tuesday night, but it didn’t turn out the way the Aggies had hoped.
Elijah Pepper scored 16 points and knocked down a dagger of a 3-pointer – his only one of the game – with 14 seconds to go as UC Davis stunned Utah State 72-69 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, spoiling the head coaching debut of Ryan Odom.
Senior forward Brandon Horvath led Utah State with 19 points. Fellow senior forward Justin Bean recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but the Aggies could not overcome 11 missed free throws and 16 turnovers that led to 14 points by UCD.
Pepper’s 3-pointer gave the visitors a 70-66 lead, but Utah State answered with a trey of its own when junior guard Rylan Jones knocked one down from the top of the arc with five seconds left. Following a timeout, UC Davis inbounded the ball and Ezra Manjon nearly ran out the remainder of the clock, but was fouled by Horvath with 0.9 seconds remaining.
Shooting into the teeth of Utah State’s wild and raucous student section, The HURD, Manjon calmly sank both free throws to make it 72-69. Bean tried to force overtime for USU when he cut a long inbound pass and heaved up a 3-point shot, but it fell short as the final horn sounded.
The Aggies started the game with a 17-5 advantage seven minutes into the contest, but UC Davis countered with a 13-0 run to take a 20-17 lead with just over nine minutes remaining. A 3-point bucket by Horvath on USU’s next possession tied the game at 20-20, but UCD hit a 3-pointer of its own with just under three minutes to play to take a 33-30 lead and held a 40-35 advantage at the break.
Utah State finished the game shooting 36.1 percent (22-of-61) from the floor, 26.7 percent (8-of-30) from behind the 3-point line and 60.7 percent (17-of-28) at the free throw line. The Aggies of UC Davis shot 39.7 percent (23-of-58) from the floor, 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from behind the 3-point line and 74.1 percent (20-of-27) at the charity stripe.
A trio of Aggies followed the double-digit scoring performances of Horvath and Bean as Jones, senior guard RJ Eytle-Rock and senior guard Brock Miller all finished with eight points apiece. Jones paced Utah State with game highs of six assists and three steals.
Bean’s double-double marked the 27th of his career as he moved to No. 8 all-time in career double-doubles in Utah State history. Horvath entered the game needing just 14 points to eclipse 1,000 in his career and has now logged 1,005 over four years at UMBC and his first year at Utah State.
Utah State hits the road for the first time this season when the Aggies travel to Annapolis, Maryland, for the Veterans Classic. USU will square off against Richmond on Friday, Nov. 12, at 4 p.m. (MT) on the CBS Sports Network.