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Utah State basketball: USU bests Hawaii, win 13th straight

HONOLULU — If Utah State had to play an ugly, offensively rough basketball game, the Aggies probably couldn't have asked for a better opponent to do it against than Hawaii.

USU won its 13th game in a row and took another step closer to locking up a third-consecutive Western Athletic Conference regular season title with a 61-50 win.

The Aggies, 23-6 overall and 12-2 in the WAC, were paced by senior point guard Jared Quayle's 13 points and seven rebounds on a night when most of the rest of the team struggled on the offensive end of the floor.

"It was a really ugly basketball game," USU coach Stew Morrill said in a quick post-game radio interview. "We'll take it, get on the flight and get on home."

As poorly as the offense might have been, the Aggie defense couldn't have been much better.

Hawaii was limited to just 41.1 shooting and suffered through an extended stretch of basketless play in which the Aggies pulled away after a tight start.

For the first 10 minutes of the game, Utah State looked ready to join a bunch of other bubble teams as Hawaii started the game shooting well and outhustling the Aggies.

But things quickly turned the way the pregame statistics suggested they might with Utah State closing the half with a 10-0 run over the final six minutes of the period to take a 25-17 lead.

The Warriors, in fact, scored only one point over the final 10:41 of the half after taking a 16-13 lead on a Hiram Thompson 3-pointer.

Utah State extended its second-half lead to a dozen points on a few occasions coming out of the break but eventually got into a little foul trouble with Nate Bendall picking up his fourth personal foul with plenty of time left on the court.

But with Quayle controlling the ball and Utah State controlling the clock, the Aggies never let the Warriors back into the game despite playing one of its less impressive offensive games of the season.

USU shot just 43.8 percent and lost the rebound battle 30-28.

In the end, though, it didn't matter as the Aggies had more than enough horsepower to leave the Islands with a win.

Utah State was in a position to put the game away emphatically, but Quayle uncharacteristically missed the front end of two one-and-one free throw situations down the stretch and the Warriors made 3-pointers after the rebounds to turn what could have been a blowout into a semi-respectable final score.

Pooh Williams finished with 12 points for USU while Tai Wesley and Bendall each had nine.

Hawaii was paced by Thompson's 13 points.

The win gives Utah State an impressive run of 11-straight seasons with at least 23 wins.

Utah State doesn't get much time to rest from its flight back to the mainland. The Aggies host Fresno State Monday night before closing the regular season out Saturday in the Spectrum against New Mexico State in what could be a game for the WAC's top seed in the conference tournament.