LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Utah State junior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield and junior center Jarred Shaw combined for 37 points and 29 rebounds, but the Aggies were unable to send the game into overtime as a three-pointer from sophomore forward Ben Clifford hit the front of the rim at the buzzer in a 51-48 home loss to league-leading Louisiana Tech Saturday night inside a spirited Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Utah State falls to 14-5 overall and 5-4 in Western Athletic Conference play with the loss, while Louisiana Tech improves to 18-3 on the season and 9-0 in league with the win. Overall, LA Tech has now won nine-straight games.
Shaw recorded his seventh double-double of the season for Utah State and scored in double-figures for the 14th time with a career-high 21 points and 14 rebounds. Shaw also added a career-high four blocked shots as he was 9-of-16 from the field and 3-for-4 at the free throw line. Butterfield posted his second double-double in as many games as he scored 16 points to go along with a career-best 15 rebounds, giving him nine double-figure scoring games this year. Clifford finished with six points and eight rebounds. USU also got three points from junior guard TeNale Roland and two points from sophomore center Jordan Stone.
Brandon Gibson scored 20 points to lead Louisiana Tech, while Raheem Appleby added 10 points off the bench as the Bulldog reserves had a 34-5 advantage in bench points.
Utah State trailed 48-40 with 6:42 to play in the game before Shaw and Butterfield each scored four points to tie the game at 48-all with 1:42 remaining. On Louisiana Tech’s next possession, Appleby hit a three-pointer from the right corner to give the visitors a 51-48 lead. Butterfield had his three-pointer blocked on USU’s next possession, but the Aggies were able to hold LA Tech without scoring, giving Clifford his three-point attempt at the buzzer.
In the final 20 minutes, Utah State held Louisiana Tech to just 18.5 percent shooting from the field (5-27) and just 16.7 percent shooting from three-point range (2-12) as the Aggies outscored the Bulldogs by 10 points (26-16) after intermission. USU also held LA Tech without a field goal for 6:33 late in the game before Appleby’s deciding three-pointer.
Utah State finished the game shooting a season-low 27.3 percent from the field (15-55), including just 21.4 percent from three-point range (3-14), but did convert on 88.2 percent of its free throws (15-17). Louisiana Tech shot just 33.3 percent (19-57), which is also season-low for a USU opponent, but the Bulldogs did make 9-of-27 (.333) three-pointers. LA Tech also was just 4-of-7 (.571) from the charity stripe, which is tied for a USU opponent season-low in both free throws made and attempted.
Utah State dominated the glass and out-rebounded Louisiana Tech by 19 (50-31), including by 10 on the offensive end (19-9). The 50 rebounds is also a season-high for USU. LA Tech ended the game with four more assists (14-10), two more steals (5-3) and one more blocked shot (7-6), while committing seven fewer turnovers (11-4) as the Aggies had 10 giveaways in the first half and just one in the final 20 minutes.
Utah State scored the first points of the game on a tip-in by Shaw before Louisiana Tech scored 12 of the next 14 points to go up 12-4 early on. USU eventually got back within four points including at 21-17 with 5:53 remaining in the half only to see LA Tech go on a 10-0 run to take its largest lead of the night at 31-17 and went into the locker room with a 35-22 advantage.
Gibson had 17 of his 20 points in the first half as he was 6-of-9 from the field and 5-of-6 from behind the arc as Louisiana Tech shot 46.7 percent from both the field (14-30) and three-point range (7-15). USU shot just 29.2 percent in the first half (7-24), including 37.5 percent from three (3-8) and 83.3 percent at the line (5-6).
Utah State began the second-half on an 8-0 run to get within 35-30, before Louisiana Tech scored its first points of the half on a Kenneth Smith layup at the 13:42 mark. LA Tech followed with a Gibson three to push its lead back to 10, only to see USU score the next six points to close within 40-36 at the 10:46 mark. The Aggies later trailed by four at 44-40 with 8:21 to play following two Clifford free throws, but the Bulldogs pushed its lead back to eight at 48-40 with 6:42 remaining setting up USU’s final run.
Next up for Utah State will be its first of three-straight road games as it plays at Idaho on Thursday, Jan. 31. USU will then play at Seattle on Saturday, Feb. 2 and at San Jose State on Friday, Feb. 8. All three road games tip-off at 8 p.m. (MT).
The Aggies then return home to host Denver on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.