look flawed but gut out a win at Idaho
By Tim Olsen
February 17, 2009 | It wasn't pretty, but as USU head
coach Stew Morrill has been known to say, "A win
is a win, and we'll take it."
Despite another less then stellar performance, USU
added another game onto the nation's longest winning
streak. The Aggies (24-1, 12-0), as they've been able
to do all year, did enough to win, beating the Idaho
Vandals Thursday night, 62-53.
Senior Gary Wilkinson led the Aggies, who tied a school
record with their 19th straight win, with another double-double
tallying 18 points and 10 rebounds.
USU led nearly from start to finish, but after recovering
from horrendous shooting early, the Vandals (10-13,
4-6) pulled close and battled with the Aggies throughout
"I'm very, very proud of the job V (Idaho coach Don
Verlin) is doing," said Morrill in a post game radio
interview. "I'm very happy we found a way to win, but
he had them well prepared tonight."
Idaho had only lost two games on its home court this
year under first year coach and longtime Aggie assistant
Don Verlin, and the Vandals put up a fight. After trailing
by as many as eight in the early going, Idaho was able
to take the lead momentarily at 17-16.
Aided by nine first half turnovers USU turnovers,
Idaho was only trailing the No. 21 Aggies by two at
the half, 24-22.
In the second half the Vandals continued to pressure
the Aggies, and though USU maintained its lead, the
Ags could never pull away from Idaho.
With just less than five minutes to play the Aggies
were clinging to a 2-point lead and the Idaho crowd
was going crazy at the prospect of upsetting a Top 25
Enter Jared Quayle.
The junior hit a tough jumper with the shot clock
running down and then intercepted the ball as Idaho
was bringing it up the court and turned it into a layup.
That series of events gave the Ags a six-point cushion.
"That kind of gave us a cushion," said Quayle in a
post game radio interview. "You can never let up, because
teams can always come back."
Quayle finished with 12 points and was the only other
Aggie to score in double figures.
Idaho would answer back again though when Luciano
de Souza connected on his third triple of the night,
cutting the lead in half with 3:21 to play.
Under pressure and with time running out, it looked
like the Ags were going to turn the ball over and give
the Vandals a shot at tying the game until Wilkinson
connected on his biggest shot of the night. With 1:55
left and the Ags up by three, "Big Red" pulled up from
long range and sank his third 3-pointer of the season.
That play was enough to put the game out of reach and
keep the nation's longest winning streak alive.
"I have total confidence in Gary Making that shot,
he's a great shooter," Quayle said. "Once he let it
go I knew it was going in."
More importantly for the Aggies, the win clinches
at least a share of the regular season WAC title as
well as the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
"Our guys hang in there when things are tough," Morrill
said. "They hang in and make just enough plays."
The Aggies now have a short time to put this game
behind them as they travel to Boise to take on the third
place Broncos tomorrow. Boise State has yet to lose
a WAC game at home this year, while the Aggies are undefeated
on the road.
"The kids are excited about it, and it's great to
get this first one and head to Boise looking to get
two," Morrill said. "That'll be a challenge."