Utah State closed out the non-conference portion of its men’s basketball schedule with a 76-62 victory against North Dakota State in the championship game of the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, sponsored by Gossner Foods, on Wednesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Junior wing Jalen Moore led the way for the Aggies (8-3), winners of three straight and four of their last six games, with 18 points and nine rebounds. It is the sixth-straight game Moore has scored in double figures.
With the win, Utah State improved to 54-2 all-time in regular season tournaments it hosts. The Aggies have now won 53 of their last 54 tournament games they have hosted.
Sophomore guard Julion Pearre spearheaded a strong bench performance by Utah State as he scored a season-high 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. The Aggies’ bench outscored the Bison’s bench, 23-7.
Senior guard Chris Smith, who was tabbed the tournament MVP, also scored in double figures for the Aggies with 15 points, to go along with eight rebounds and two assists. Redshirt junior forward Lew Evans was the final Utah State player to score in double figures with 10 points.
The Bison (9-4) also had four players score in double figures as all-tournament team members A.J. Jacobson and Paul Miller finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively. Freshman guard Khy Kabelilis chipped in 11 points, and junior guard Carlin Dupree finished with 10.
Rounding out the all-tournament team was Moore, UT Rio Grande Valley freshman guard Antonio Green and Idaho State sophomore guard Geno Luzcando.
Utah State scored the first four points of the game courtesy of back-to-back buckets by Smith and Evans one minute apart.
North Dakota State, which had its four-game winning streak snapped, answered with a 6-0 run. All six points were scored by Miller, who knocked down two of his four 3-pointers on the night.
The Bison took their final lead of the night at 23-22 when Jacobson converted a fastbreak layup with 7:06 to go in the opening half.
However, the Aggies moved back in front for good courtesy of a 3-pointer by Moore. The basket ignited an 8-0 spurt by Utah State that put the hosts in front, 30-23, with 4:50 remaining until halftime.
After the Bison pared the deficit to 34-32 with 2:58 left in the half, the Aggies closed the half on a 9-2 run to take a 43-34 lead into the break. The closest North Dakota State got the rest of the way was eight points.
The Aggies shot a season-high 60.7 percent from the field in the first half and finished the night shooting 54.2 percent (26-of-48), including a stellar 42.9 percent clip from 3-point range (6-of-14).
The Bison only shot 39.3 percent from the field (24-of-61), marking the third time this season Utah State has held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting from the field.
The Aggies now turn their attention to Mountain West play, beginning Wednesday, Dec. 30, on the road at San José State. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. MT.
Kyle Cottam is the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Utah State University.