shake off opening spurt by CS Bakersfield, win 78-57
By Connor H. Jones
February 20, 2009 | Cal State Bakersfield held tight
in the first 15 minutes, hitting 5 of 5 from three-point
range, before the Aggies pulled away Wednesday in the
second half for a 78-57 non-conference win.
With the victory, Utah State now has 25 wins and only
two losses, giving the Aggies the most wins of any team
in the country. USU's consecutive home winning streak
record was broken with the win; the Aggies are now at
32 straight wins, second in the nation only to Kansas,
which who has 37 in a row.
Junior Stavon Williams led the Aggies in scoring with
13 points, 11 of which came in the first half. On the
night, Williams hit 5-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-6
from three-point range in 27 minutes.
Williams was one of nine USU players to score seven
or more points against the Roadrunners (6-20).
Tai Wesley was USU's second highest scorer, racking
up 11 points, five rebounds, one steal and three assists
in a game-high 28 minutes played. Wesley started the
game hot, sinking four of his first five shots and nabbing
three rebounds during the first half.
Wesley's strong half wasn't enough to intimidate the
Roadrunners, who instead of challenging USU's dominant
big men took their game beyond the arc, hushing the
crowd after each of their five first half threes. Sophomore
guard Alex Johnson hit both of his attempted threes
in the half, his first to tie the game at 21 and his
second coming just over a minute later to give the Roadrunners
one of their final leads of the game, 23-24.
After the fire started to fizzle on their three point
shots, the Roadrunner couldn't get a spark. They did
not score in the final 6:19 of the first half, allowing
the Aggies to pull away from what was a tie game to
a 41-26 lead going into intermission.
Coming out of the locker room, USU looked sloppy, starting
off with a foul, turnover and a missed open jumper.
USU Coach Stew Morrill looked ready to burst a couple
minutes later after a two-on-one fast break resulted
in zero points because of a failed alley-oop pass. After
a timeout and some yelling by Morrill, the Aggies began
to calm down.
Senior Gary Wilkinson showed his poise in the second
half collecting seven of his 10 rebounds and five of
his nine points. Also in the second half Wilkinson had
two blocks and one assist before he left the game. After
the game Wilkinson said he tweaked his back but it wasn't
a big deal, and he would be fine for Saturday's ESPN
BracketBuster game against Saint Mary's.
Morrill and the Aggie team travel to Moraga, Calif.,
to play 20-5 Saint Mary's for ESPN's seventh annual
BracketBuster tournament. The tournament is one of the
final games a mid-major program such as USU can use
to try to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
Saint Mary's has a strong basketball program, which
was ranked as high at 18 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
"It'll be the first time in a while we've gone
into the game being an underdog," said Pooh Williams.
"[But] if we play Aggie basketball I think we can
play with anyone in the country."
USU returns home for one of its final home games of
the season Thursday against conference foe Hawaii. Tipoff
at the Smith Spectrum is at 7 p.m.