Jalen Moore’s dagger 3-pointer with under a minute to play lifted Utah State basketball over Wyoming 81-74 Saturday in front of a frenzied home crowd.
The clutch bucket capped Moore’s game-high 23-point night, a timely return to form after a three-game offensive slump. The Aggies boasted five players scoring in double-digits including bench spark Quinn Taylor. Taylor finished the night shooting 6-8 for 14 points, adding seven rebounds, three assists and a steal.
“It was an entertaining college basketball game,” said USU head coach Tim Duryea. “Lots of scoring, lots of 3-point shots. It was up-tempo, both teams tried to push the tempo. We played about as good as we could play offensively in the first half.”
The first half saw sophomore wing Alexis Dargenton tallying six of his nine total points in the game’s first two minutes. Moore added a pair of early 3-pointers, building confidence in the team’s offense that felt absent in USU’s contest Tuesday in Ft. Collins.
“They were back on it,” Duryea said, “I think they’re developing a lot of confidence playing here. On the flip side, we’ve got to find a way to get some confidence playing on the road.”
Utah State out-rebounded Wyoming in the first half 21-10. The Cowboys kept pace with 57 percent 3-point shooting, nearly covering the deficit on the boards as the Aggies led just 43-42 at the break.
“The game plan was to be aggressive and drive down the lane to try and get a few easy shots,” Dargenton said. “We got going pretty quickly and that’s why the game was so close the whole time.”
The second half saw more of the same, as both teams traded big shots while Wyoming’s Louis Adams emerged as the Cowboy’s primary scoring threat. Adams finished with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting.
“I’m not pissed at our guys’ effort,” said Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards. “We have to do a better job on the glass and obviously one of the keys was defending the 3-point line, where we gave them some easy looks. Not only did they get to the free throw line, they did a good job of putting it in.”
In a three-point game with 39 seconds to play, freshman Sam Merrill drove to the basket, collapsing Wyoming’s defense before kicking it out to an open Moore — who buried it.
“I know how [Moore] works,” Duryea said. “I know his work ethic. He’s in before, he’s staying late shooting … I said nothing to him and knew it was just a matter of time for him.”
The win boosts the Aggies’ conference record to 5-8.
“The feeling that’s going on in the locker room is that we have six more chances to have a big impact in conference,” Dargenton said. “We have to go hard and get the last few remaining games.”