LOGAN – It was an emotion-filled arena Saturday night in Logan when Head Coach Stew Morrill entered the Spectrum for his last home game of his final season. The Aggies led Colorado State for a majority of the 40 minutes but lost the lead in the final three and suffered a 75-70 defeat.
“We we’re in position to win the game and we just played unintelligent basketball and that’s the difference,” Morrill said. “They’re experienced. They’re a good team and they just capitalized on us not playing very smart.”
It was more than Morrill’s Spectrum finale that added to the energy in the sold-out arena. It was also senior night for lone senior Sean Harris. If that wasn’t enough, 50 former Aggie basketball players took the floor at halftime and were honored. A special remembrance took place for Aggie All-American Wayne Estes who died 50 years ago February, hours after his final game.
“I appreciated the fans coming out and all of that,” Morrill said. “It was very, very nice. I wish we could have given them a win in return.”
With 1:13 remaining, Colorado State took their first lead of the second half when Gian Clavell made two free throws. Junior guard Darius Perkins took it back with a 3-pointer, but the Aggies lost it again for good when Ram senior forward J.J. Avila drove in for his 29th point of the game.
“He killed us tonight. He did a really good job,” junior guard Chris Smith said of Avila. “Hopefully we’ll see him again.”
Smith’s shot was blocked the following possession. The Rams got a hold of the ball and CSU’s Stanton Kidd dunked it on the other end. USU’s Jalen Moore was able to score another bucket for the Aggies, but a turnover – coupled with some fouls and missed shots in the final 15 seconds – kept the Aggies from being able to take the lead again.
“(Colorado State) just played smarter,” Morrill said. “We just had some really dumb plays down the stretch. I mean, just there was a comedy of errors.”
Smith led USU with 24 points. Jojo McGlaston and Moore each added 14. David Collette had 10 points before he fouled out trying to rebound the ball with 2:24 remaining in the game. Morrill said when Collette left the game the Aggies had “no inside presence.”
“There’s no point fouling him on the rebound and now he’s out of the game,” Morrill said. “That hurt us.”
The Aggies finished the regular season at 18-12 overall and 11-7 in the Mountain West. McGlaston said even with the loss, the environment for Morrill’s last game in the Spectrum “was a fun way to end it.”
“This is Aggie basketball,” McGlaston said. “This is what I came here for, this environment, you know.”
The Aggies will travel to Las Vegas for the Mountain West Championship tournament and will play Wyoming Thursday afternoon. The Cowboys beat the Aggies 76-53 earlier in the week. Morrill said he expects his team to be ready.
“We just got thumped by them so there’s a chance to try and play better than that,” he said.