SACRAMENTO (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah State basketball team thought this time it would be different at the NCAA Tournament.

It wasn’t.

The Aggies, the fifth best 3-point shooting team in the nation, missed its first 13 three-pointers, and made just 4-of-24 shots from beyond the arc in a 76-65 loss to Missouri in the first round of the Big Dance.

Utah State’s winless drought extends back to 2001, a span of 10 straight losses.

“We definitely we wish we would have shot the ball a little bit better from beyond the arc,” said Steven Ashworth, who made 2 of 10 shots from 3-point range. “Sometimes when you get in these big games, there’s a lot of adrenaline. I think in the second half we kind of got settled in.”

“It was just one of those nights I guess,” said Sean Bairstow, who scored 10 points for the Aggies. “Everyone shot the ball with confidence and the way we know how to do it. They just didn’t go in.”

The Aggies started cold from the perimeter, going the entire first half without a made 3-pointer, the team’s first half without a 3 this season. USU controlled the paint, however, outscoring the Tigers 26-14 in the paint while shooting 76.5 percent (13-of-17) within the 3-point line in the first half. While Missouri jumped out to an early 14-6 lead, Utah State slowly trimmed the deficit to enter halftime trailing 35-31.

USU’s offense showed signs of life to start the second half. Steven Ashworth broke the 3-point shooting drought, giving Utah State its first lead since the opening minutes at 36-35 with 18 minutes remaining. The sides traded baskets for much of the next seven minutes before the Tigers blitzed the Aggies with a 15-4 run en route to building a double-digit lead. USU was unable to mount a comeback in the final minutes.

The Aggies committed 15 turnovers for the game. The Aggies gave credit to a stifling Missouri defense.

“Missouri challenges you,” said USU head coach Ryan Odom. “They’re contesting every pass, they’re switching every screen, they’re out there on your shooters and forcing you into drives. I thought our guys did a nice job in the middle of the second half where we took the lead.”

Taylor Funk led the Aggies with 16 points and seven rebounds. Ashworth and Dan Akin each added 12 points, with Ashworth also adding six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Sean Bairstow was the final Aggie in double figures with 10 points. USU shot 47.5 percent (28-for-59) from the field but managed only 16.7 percent (4-for-24) from 3-point territory.

Kobe Brown hit three 3-pointers in a span of just over three minutes to fuel a 13-2 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 62-53 lead. Brown finished with 19 points, while D’Moi Hodge led the Tigers with 23.

The seventh-seeded Tigers (25-9) held on from there, stopping a six-game tournament skid with their first win since beating Clemson in the first round in 2010. Missouri will take on Princeton in the second round. The 15th-seeded Tigers pulled a major upset over 2nd-seeded Arizona.

The frustration for the Aggies was evident when they got called for a bench technical when one of the reserves argued a no-call midway through the second half. Coach Dave Odom heatedly argued the call before getting restrained by an assistant.

After winning 26 games and getting back to the Big Dance for the fourth time in five years, the Aggies were still proud of their season.

“I’m very proud,” said Funk, who made his first NCAA Tournament appearance in his sixth college season. “These are my brothers for life. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. I’m just so proud of these guys. We battled all season.

“We’re proud of what we accomplished this season,” said Shulga. “Obviously it didn’t end how we wanted it to, but there are a lot of things to be proud about.”

“I’m just thankful for my teammates,” said Akin. “Not the result we wanted, but I’m going to remember this year for the rest of my life.”