LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Sean Bairstow scored 19 points, while St. Joseph’s transfer Taylor Funk scored 18 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in his Utah State debut, as the Aggies ran away from Utah Valley in its season-opener, 75-58.
“That was just fun,” Bairstow said. “There’s not really much else to say, that was so much fun. It was really good to get the first one out of the way with a dub. Get the nerves out of the way. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do from here.”
Max Shulga added 14 points for the Aggies, who shot 45.3 percent from the floor.
Utah Valley was lead by Aziz Bandaogo with 17 points, but the Wolverines struggled offensively, making just 32.3 percent of its shots.
“Obviously, it was a good start to the season for us,” said Utah State head coach Ryan Odom. “I’m really excited about the result against a really quality Utah Valley team. Coach (Mark) Madsen has a really good squad. Coming off of 20 wins last year with the majority of their guys back, minus the big fella. (Trey) Woodbury comes back. You can see, even though he got into foul trouble, he’s a dynamite player and has the ability to beat you himself.”
The Aggies took a 41-28 lead into the half and led by 17 points in the second half. Utah Valley trimmed the lead to 57-52 with 8:50 left on a free throw by La’Tre Darthard. But the Aggies closed the game on an 18-6 run to close the game out.
Steven Ashworth filled the stat sheet for the Aggies, scoring nine points, to go along with a career-high-tying six rebounds and five assists, marking the 12th time in his career he has recorded at least five dimes in a game.
Utah State dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Wolverines, 47-34.
“We talked about rebounding going into the game,” Odom said. “Coach Madsen’s teams are very tough and have a clear focus of going after the glass. We worked on that all summer and through the fall. Not specifically for them, it’s just an area we knew we needed to perform well in when you lose a guy like Justin Bean who is a dynamite rebounder.”
Utah State next hosts Bradley Friday night at 7:00 p.m.