Neemias Queta scores 21 points to lead Utah State to 80-71 win over Boise State

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LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) –  Neemias Queta scored 21 points for the second straight game and Sam Merrill added 17 points to lead Utah State past Boise State 70-61 in front of 10,033 fans Saturday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Diogo Brito had 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Aggies (19-7, 8-5 Mountain West), who ended the game on an 8-0 run.

With his 17 against the Broncos (16-9, 8-5 MW), Merrill has now scored 1,996 career points, which ranks fourth all-time in school history. The native of Bountiful, Utah, is just four points shy of becoming the fourth player in school history to score 2,000 career points, joining Jaycee Carroll (2,522), Greg Grant (2,127) and Wayne Estes (2,001).

It was exactly 55 years to the day on Saturday that Estes became the first Aggie in program history to surpass 2,000 career points. Estes’ feat is even more impressive when you consider he did it in just two-and-a-half years – freshmen were not eligible for any sport until 1968 – and in an era where the 3-point shot was not yet part of the collegiate game.

Estes scored 48 points against the University of Denver on Feb. 8, 1965, in what would be the final collegiate basketball game of his career. After the game, Estes and some friends stopped at the scene of a car accident near campus. While crossing the street, Estes brushed against a downed high power line and was tragically electrocuted.

Prior to the tip-off Saturday night, Estes was honored during a short ceremony.

Due to foul trouble, Merrill only played seven minutes in the second half against Boise State. He was whistled for his fourth foul with 19:20 remaining in the game and the Aggies nursing a 35-25 lead.

Merrill went to the bench and the Broncos went to work on the Aggies’ lead, cutting it to 49-46 with 8:58 left. With 6:46 remaining, Merrill returned to the court with Utah State leading 51-47.

A layup by Riley Abercrombie pulled the visitors to within 62-61 with 1:01 left, but that’s as close as the Broncos would get the rest of the way. Ignited by a pair of foul shots from Queta following a flagrant foul whistled on the Broncos, the Aggies closed Boise State out with their game-ending 8-0 run.

Over the final 2:33 of the game, the Broncos shot 1-for-7 from the field. Justinian Jessop led BSU with 20 points and Alex Hobbs added 15.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well. Boise State was 22-of-62 (35.5 percent) from the field, including just 6-of-29 (20.7 percent) from beyond the arc. The Broncos were 11-of-19 (57.9 percent) from the free throw line and committed seven turnovers.

Utah State was 19-of-50 (38.0 percent) from the floor, including just 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) from the 3-point line. The Aggies went to the free throw line 35 times on the night and made 30 of them (85.7 percent).

The Aggies dominated the glass, outrebounding the Broncos 47-31. USU sophomore forward Justin Bean grabbed a career- and game-high 16 boards, while Queta, who was 11-for-14 from the free throw line, had eight rebounds and a season-best five blocks.

Winners of back-to-back and five out of their last six games, the Aggies will now head back out on the road. Utah State takes on Colorado State on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

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