Rebounding is a mental thing, and both teams agreed Thursday night that Utah State was more aggressive on the boards. "Their second effort was so much better than ours; it looked like we were running in quicksand," said Weber State Coach Denny Huston, whose team had outrebounded every other opponent it had played, including extra-tall BYU.
With a 42.29 edge on the boards, Utah State, heretofore a poor-rebounding lcub, took control near the end of the first half, began to lose it, then regained its balance for a going away 77-62 victory over the Wildcats in the Dee glen Smith Spectrun.The teams meet again Wednesday night in Ogden.
It was the Aggies' first win of the season in five tries.
"It was a big one. We deserved it," said Aggie guard Jay Goodman, held to 13 points on a night when teammate Rich Jardine was the game's scoring leader with 19 and foward/gauard temmate Kendall Youngblood led everyone in rebounding with eight for US. Youngblood added 15 points.
Weber was led by David Baldwin's 14 and Jimmy DeGraffenried's 13.
It was a victory that had its roots in the team meeting the Aggies held with their coaches last weekend. "We wanted to communicate as a team," said Youngblood. "We just wanted to get things together."
In Youngbloods analysis of the problem, he said the Aggies had to make the decision to win as a team and not to just look good as individuals.
"We were being outhustled," added Jardine, who concentrated on playing within himself to make an impressive comeback from a poor night at Boise State Saturday. "We worked on building intensity to make it so we could outrebound a good-rebounding team."
Goodman also considered a renewed emphasis in practice over the week to be a key factor. The Aggies practiced an extra hour a day, especially on rebounding. "We had to work harder. It paid off," Goodman said.
"Rebounding was the difference; even the guards rebounded. That's just desire," Goodman said.
Desire kindled by a 0-4 start.
"It feels great. We have to try and put those four behind us," Goodman said.
It's great for our players. I don't know of anybody who works harder," said Aggie Coach Kohn Smith. "They hear all the things around town..."
Smith was gratified that the Aggies, in addition to rebounding, managed to hold their composure when their lead began slipping.
They were up 38:31 at the half as Jardine made a free throw, Goodman hit a layup off a Jardine assist and Jardine made a 17-footer off the baseline for five unanswered points. The lead went to nine, 44-35, but Al Hamilton and David Baldwin got Weber moving, and layups by Aaron Bell and Tony Nichols trimmed the lead to 53-51 with 8:08 left in the game.
Just as quickly, Allen gordon popped from the top of the key, Jardine hit a three-pointer and Jeff Paris laid one in off a Gordon assist, all without retort from Weber, and it was nine points again. Weber got it down to six, 62-56, then lost Nicholas and Baldwin to Foulouts, and Utah State spent the rest of the game pick' and grinnin'.
"We showed signs of maturing," said Smith abou that stretch.
The Aggies have been poor on defense, and Smith said Thursday's game had them concentrating on defense for long stretches because of the Wildcats' methodical pass-ti-around-the-perimeter style that winds out the shot clock. "We stayed with our defense and kept working," approved Smith. "I don't think we played great defense, but we worked at it."z "We hurt ourselves defensively," said Huston, who preferred not to make a big deal out of either the 11-day layoff his team had or its playing without veteran center Anthony McGowan, out for up to six weeks with a pinched nerve. Huston did say the pivot is a problem the Wildcats haven't yet resolved.
He preferred to talk about his club's standing still. "They beat us at the point of attack," Huston said. "It looked like there was something missing. At crunch time, our reaction was panic. We didn't execute."
Weber fell to 2-3 with a game Monday at 6-1 Utah to be played before the Wildcats' rematch with the Aggies. USU is off until Wednesday, able to savor its victory.