Northeastern edges Utah State 64-61

Northeastern edges Utah State 64-61

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BOSTON -- For the third consecutive game Utah State stayed on the road, and for the second consecutive game USU let a halftime lead slip away as the Northeastern Huskies rallied to beat the Aggies, 64-61.

Coming off of a one-point loss and a poor performance Wednesday night in Salt Lake City, the Aggies started red-hot Saturday, as they opened the game with a 19-4 run. Junior forward Tai Wesley who had 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting did much of that damage.

We just made too many mistakes.

–USU Head Coach Stew Morrill

"I think we surprised them, we were really ready to play," said USU Head Coach Stew Morrill in a postgame radio interview. "We came out and hit shots and played hard then just kind of ran into the wall again in the second half."

The Huskies were able to chip away at the USU lead before the intermission, however, as Northeastern was led back by senior guard Baptiste Bataille. After cutting the Aggie lead to as little as two, junior Tyler Newbold was able to knock down a long two-point jumper to send USU into the locker room up by six, 34-28.

Early in the second half the Aggies came out firing again, with a Newbold 3-pointer and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Wesley, as they built the lead back to 10. The Huskies would lock down from that point on though, and used an 11-0 run to take their first lead of the game on a basket by senior forward Manny Adako.

The number of fouls played a factor in both halves. Though junior Nate Bendall was the only USU player to foul out of the game, the number of fouls called on the Aggies put the Huskies on the line early and often.

Despite Northeastern taking its first lead, there was still 11:30 remaining in the game, and it would be a back and forth affair from there. The Aggies took their last lead on a 3-pointer by Brian Green - his only bucket.

Green struggled again from the floor going 1-of-8, but his basket gave the Aggies a one-point lead with 2:15 remaining.

After Nkem Ojougboh connected on one of two free throws, the game was tied at 58 and USU had the ball. The Aggies had two good looks on their next possession, but a Jared Quayle 3-pointer was off the mark and Wesley had a long jumper that rattled in-and-out.

Quayle who had a game-high 27 points against the Utes had an awful game Saturday as he connected on only 2-of-9 shots and 1-of-3 3-pointers. He did have double-digit rebounds though for the second consecutive game.

"Between the three perimeter guys, their shooting percentages were awful," Morrill said. "I think for the most part we had pretty good looks."

The Aggies - who have led the nation in field goal percentage each of the last two years - have been held to roughly 40 percent in their two losses. They're also averaging 16 turnovers through three games.

"The things that we've always done a pretty good job of is shooting more free throws than our opponents, turning it over less than our opponents and making open shots. Right now we haven't done those things," Morrill said.

After Wesley's miss, the Huskies were able to corral the ball. Twenty-four seconds later, Bataille was fouled and connected on both his free throws to give the home teams a two-point lead with 36 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing possession, the Aggies were able to work the ball inside to Wesley. A good passer from inside, Wesley tried to kick the ball back out, but was instead picked off by junior guard Chaisson Allen with 10.6 seconds remaining.

"We just made too many mistakes, Tai had a tough time," Morrill said. "(He) threw the ball away at the end when we went to him to try and get a basket, when he should have just went and tried to score it. That's something that you don't expect him to do, he's a smart basketball player."

Allen connected on both free throws, and the Huskies were able to hold on for the come-from-behind win.

The loss marks the first time since the 2007-08 season that the Aggies have lost back-to-back games. This loss also comes nearly three months earlier than the Aggies second loss last season which didn't come until Feb. 14. Both losses have been by a combined four points.

"We've got to play when the game's on the line, and that's the bottom line. That's been something that's been the strength of a lot of our teams, and was certainly a strength of last year's team - we found a way to win these types of games," Morrill said. "This team's got to make their way, and figure out how to make plays when the game's on the line."

The Aggies will have a short time to figure things out as they play Idaho State on Tuesday. They will, however, finally return to the Spectrum where they haven't lost a game in two years, and currently hold the nation's second-longest home winning streak.

"We could be 3-0, but we could be 0-3. We should probably be 2-1, we think that we could have won one of these last two games where we had the chance too, but that's the way it is," Morrill said. "It's early, it's November. If we just get a few things corrected, we'll be fine."

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