No. 3 Seed Utah State Beats No. 2 Boise State 72-62 in MW Semifinals

By Wade Denniston |

Steven Ashworth and Sean Bairstow celebrate during Friday's game against Boise State University at the Mountain West semifinals in Las Vegas. (Photo Credit: NCAA/C. Morgan Engel)

LAS VEGAS — Utah State punched its ticket to the title game of the Mountain West Championships and will face a familiar foe for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Junior guard Max Shulga had 19 points and five assists to help the third-seeded Aggies erase an eight-point deficit at halftime and beat second-seeded Boise State 72-62 in the semifinals of the tournament on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Fellow junior guard Steven Ashworth chipped in 14 points for the Aggies (26-7), who will take on top-seeded San Diego State in the championship game of the tournament on Saturday at 4 p.m. (MT). The Aztecs advanced with a 64-49 victory over fifth-seeded San Josè State.

Two other Aggies also scored in double figures as senior guard RJ Eytle-Rock had 13 points off the bench and senior guard Sean Bairstow chipped in 12. Grad forward Taylor Funk, who had 32 points in the quarterfinals against New Mexico, contributed seven points and 10 rebounds.

Naje Smith and Marcus Shaver Jr. had 14 points apiece for the Broncos (24-8), who missed 10-consecutive shots from the field down the stretch and only made three of their last 15 field goals.

Utah State trailed 49-45 with less than 10 minutes to go when Shulga hit a jumper to ignite a game-changing 11-2 run that gave the designated visitors the lead for good.

Eytle-Rock hit a pair of free throws with 7:45 remaining to make it 51-49 for the Aggies. Utah State pushed its advantage out to as many as 12 before settling for the 10-point win.

The Aggies never led in the first half and were tied with the Broncos at 16-apiece with 10:31 left until the break. Boise State seized control from that point with a 10-2 run.

The Aggies shot 40.4 percent from the field (21-of-52), including 31.0 percent from beyond the arc (12-of-24), and 80.8 percent from the free throw line (21-of-26).

Defensively, Utah State held Boise State to 40.0 percent shooting from the field (22-of-55), including 28.6 percent from 3-point range (4-of-14). The Broncos connected on just 63.6 percent of their shots from the charity stripe (14-of-22).

For more information on Utah State's men's basketball program, follow the Aggies on Twitter at @usubasketball, on Facebook at usumensbasketball and on Instagram at usubasketball. Fans can also watch USU men's basketball highlights by visiting


Wade Denniston
Athletics Media Relations
(435) 797-1361


Ashley Springer
Utah State University Athletics
Assistant Media Relations Coordinator


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