ANAHEIM, Calif. Pacific may have won the last three meetings with Utah State, but the Aggies won when it counted.
Utah State freshman Jaycee Carroll, who was named the tournament MVP, poured in a game-high 22 points and added seven rebounds as the Aggies snapped the Tigers' 22-game winning streak with a 65-52 win.
The win not only earned the Aggies a bid to the NCAA tournament, but it also snapped a three-game losing streak to the Tigers. UOP beat the Aggies 73-66 in overtime in Stockton and then came from eight down in the final minute to beat the Aggies in Logan. They won the final regular-season meeting between the two schools in Stockton last year.
The 13-point loss was the worst of the season for the Tigers. They lost to Kansas by 11 earlier in the year.
The Aggies will learn who they play in the first round of the tournament today at 4 p.m. when the pairings are announced on CBS. They will open play either Thursday or Friday depending on the site.
Utah State is making its fourth NCAA tournament appearance in the last six years.
The Aggies are 6-17 all-time in NCAA games and their last win in the tournament came in 2001 when they beat Ohio State, 77-68, in overtime. In their last tournament appearance in 2003, the Aggies lost to national runner-up and No. 2 seed Kansas, 64-61.
No. 18 Pacific (26-3) will play the waiting game to see if it will get an at-large bid. Last year, the Aggies, who were 25-3 and ranked in the top 25, didn't make the tournament after losing to Northridge in the conference semifinals.
Many prognosticators have said they believe the Tigers will get into the tournament, despite the setback, because of a high RPI and wins over UTEP, Nevada and Fresno State.
Utah State took advantage of Pacific's cold shooting in the first nine minutes. While the Tigers were shooting just 12.5 percent in that time, the Aggies built an eight-point lead, 14-6, behind six points each from Carroll and Spencer Nelson, who eventually finished the game with 16 points.
Pacific made its first field goal of the game at the 19:43 mark and wouldn't record its second for nearly nine more minutes.
Trailing 17-10, the Tigers went on a 14-2 run to take their biggest lead of the half at 24-19.
Utah State fought back to tie the score at 26-all on a 3-pointer by David Pak. The game was tied or the lead changed hands three times in the last two minutes before the Tigers gained a one-point advantage on a free throw by Marko Mihailovic.
The Aggies were saddled with early foul trouble inside. Cass Matheus and Nate Harris, who combined for 42 points in the semifinal win over Cal State Fullerton on Friday, combined for more fouls (five) than points (two). Harris had three fouls. Matheus picked up his third foul in the first minute of the second half.
Carroll scored eight of the Aggies' first nine points in the second half to take their first lead since late in the first half.Comment on this story
Pacific scored on the following possession to take its last lead of the game before Jason Williams drilled a 3-pointer with 14:54 left to give the Aggies the lead for good.
Williams' 3-pointer proved to be the first points in an 13-0 run for Utah State. Pacific missed seven shots and turned the ball over four times before scoring with 6:49 left in the game. It was the Tigers' first field goal since the 17:20 mark of the second half.
The Aggies eventually led by as many as 16 points on a foul shot by Nelson.Nelson and Harris were also named to the all-tournament team.