November 25, 2019 / 2:06 AM / 14 days ago

No. 15 Utah State uses strong finish to beat North Texas

No. 15 Utah State ended with an 11-0 run against upset-minded North Texas to capture the Montego Division championship with a 68-59 win Sunday in the Jamaica Classic at Montego Bay.

Utah State (7-0) won its two games in the Jamaica Classic, also beating LSU.

Alphonso Anderson led the Aggies on Sunday with 19 points and five rebounds. Diogo Brito added 15 points and Justin Bean finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

North Texas (2-5) was led by Umoja Gibson’s 19 points and three steals. Deng Geu had 18 points and seven rebounds.

Utah State leading scorer Sam Merrill, who was averaging 18.5 points a game entering the game, was scoreless in the first half and finished with five points on 0-of-6 shooting from the field. His 29-game streak of scoring in double figures was snapped.

He hobbled off the court with 7:14 left with an apparent left ankle injury before later returning.

Making matters worse for the Aggies, fellow point guard Abel Porter fouled out with 3:08 left. He had only six points and three turnovers in 15 minutes.

Merrill checked back in with a heavily taped ankle with 2:41 remaining in the midst of a scoring slump for North Texas.

After Gibson put North Texas ahead 59-57 with 4:11 left, the Mean Green went scoreless the rest of the game. They missed seven shots and committed two turnovers in that final span.

Bean tied the game on Utah State’s ensuing possession. Anderson’s jumper with 2:19 left gave Utah State a 61-59 lead.

Following two missed shots and a turnover by North Texas, Utah State took a 63-59 lead (the Aggies’ biggest lead of the game at that point) with 1:37 left on a layup by Anderson.

Brito added two free throws with 1:11 left. Two more free throws by Anderson with 37 seconds left put the game out of reach.

Utah State made 27 of its 34 free throw attempts.

The game remained close from start to finish. It had 17 lead changes and 12 ties.

—Field Level Media

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