LOGAN, Utah (HawaiiNewsNow) – The University of Hawai‘i men's basketball team took three-time league champion Utah State down to the wire before eventually falling, 74-66, in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams Wednesday night at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
A year ago in Logan, UH (9-4, 0-1 WAC) suffered a 44-point loss the Aggies—the worst conference loss in school history. It was an entirely different story this year as the 'Bows gave the Aggies, winners of 23 straight home games, all they could handle. UH trailed by just two points on five separate occasions in the second half including as late as 2:30 left when UH was down 63-61.
The Aggies (12-2, 1-0 WAC), however, scored on each of their final five possessions to stave off the upset-minded 'Bows. Utah State has now won 15 straight WAC regular-season games and 25 straight league home games. UH, meanwhile, dropped its 13th straight road game dating back to 2009.
UH shot 63 percent from the floor—its best performance in nearly four years—but were blasted on the boards by the Aggies, 32-13. The Aggies also converted 25-of-35 (83 percent) of their free throws and sealed the win on the line where they scored 12 of their final 16 points.
Zane Johnson tied his career-high with 24 points, including 17 in the second half to keep UH close Thompson finished with 13 points and tied his career high with nine assists before fouling out with 1:48 remaining in the game.
WAC Preseason Player of the Year Tai Wesley recorded a double-double with 27 points and 13 rebounds for Utah State, while going a perfect 11-of-11 from the line.
The first half was filled with runs by both teams. Utah State scored the first five points of the game but UH reeled off a 12-3 run to take the lead. The Aggies responded with 13-2 run and eventually took an eight-point lead, the largest of the half. But UH came right back with nine unanswered to take the lead again. Utah State made the final push in the half, taking a slim 34-30 margin.
Utah State started the second half by scoring seven straight points to take an 11-point lead, the largest of the game. The Aggies would not relinquish their lead, but UH never made it easy for the Aggies remaining in the game through the final moments.
UH now heads to Reno for a nationally televised game against Nevada on New Year's Eve. Tipoff is set for 5:00 p.m. PT (3:00 HT) at the Lawlor Events Center and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
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