Jan. 15, 2014
LOGAN, Utah - J.J. Avila recorded 21 points and eight rebounds, while Daniel Bejarano added 20 points and eight boards, but the effort of the Rams' junior duo was not enough, as Colorado State suffered a 57-50 road loss at Utah State on Wednesday night in front of 9,766 fans at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The Rams (11-7, 2-3 MW), started fast in a tough road environment, behind the outstanding efforts of Avila and Bejarano, who also dished out a team-high three assists each. But the rest of the Rams' roster combined to shoot just 2-for-15 from the field, and the host Aggies (12-4, 202 MW) found their stroke from beyond the arc, to erase the Rams' lead that lasted the entire opening 15 minutes of the contest.
"We played well," said Eustachy of his team's effort against the Aggies. "It's disappointing, we had a chance to win and we just didn't play as a whole. I feel bad for J.J. (Avila) and I feel really bad for Daniel (Bejarano) because they played well enough to win against a very good team. I just thought they were let down. It's a team sport and we lost as a team. We'll learn from it."
Avila and Bejarano scored the 21 of the Rams' 22 points in the first half and built a lead that reached as many as five points, 11-6, when Avila connected on a jumper at the 10-minute mark. The Aggies answered Avila's score with four straight buckets from beyond the arc. The final dagger in the flurry came from Spencer Butterfield at the 4:02 mark, and broke the only tie of the game to give Utah State an advantage, 18-15, that they would never relinquish.
"We felt good at halftime," said Bejarano who connected on a pair of three-pointers late in the first half to keep the Rams within striking distance. "We were down, but we started strong. We just didn't finish it out."
The Rams battled throughout the second half, even after the Utah State lead ballooned to 10 points, 44-34 on a three-pointer from Danny Berger with 8:38 left in the contest. Bejarano answered Berger's trey with two of his own, on back-to-back possessions, to bring the Rams' within 44-40 with 8 minutes left in the contest.
Utah State's 11-for-21 shooting from distance was too much to overcome, despite the Rams' posting a 37-31 rebounding edge against one of the nation's top rebounding teams. Butterfield hit his fourth three of the contest with 5:50 in the game, pushing the Rams' deficit to 47-40. Just more than 2 minutes later, with the Rams trailing 50-44, he connected on his fifth and converted a free-throw to complete a rare four-point play and push the lead back to 10 points, 54-44.
An Avila three-pointer with 33 seconds left in the contest kept the Rams' hopes alive at 54-48, but the Aggies hit 3-of-4 FTs in the final 31 seconds to seal the victory.
Despite their offensive woes, Jon Octeus, Joe De Ciman and Marcus Holt each pulled down five rebounds for the Rams in the contest. Octeus was held scoreless for the first time this season, while De Ciman added five points and Holt tallied four.
USU's senior center Jarred Shaw, playing in just his third game since missing five contests due to a suspension from the team, tied Butterfield for team-high honors with 17 points and capped a double-double performance with 10 boards. Preston Medlin tallied 12 points and eight assists for the Aggies.
Next up, the Rams return home to Moby Arena for a Saturday afternoon matchup against in-state rival Air Force. Tipoff between the Rams and the Falcons is slated for 4 p.m. MT, and the game will be televised on ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain.
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