10:05 PM ET, February 12, 2004
Matadome, Northridge, California
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Mark Brown scored a career-high 25 points, and Nate Harris pulled down a career-best 13 rebounds to go with 14 points as Utah State (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) extended its winning streak to 17 games.Neither was aware of those accomplishments until informed by reporters after the Aggies beat Cal State Northridge 69-47 on Thursday night."We don't worry much about stats around here," Harris explained."I'm just glad we got the win," was Brown's reaction.The Aggies (20-1, 12-0 Big West Conference) shot 75 percent in the first half to take command, and wound up shooting 63.4 percent, making 26 of 41 shots.They entered shooting 50.5 percent from the field to rank fourth in the country.Brown shot 8-of-9 including 3-of-3 from 3-point range and made all six of his free throws."I had a lot of opportunities to create for myself," said Brown, a senior point guard whose previous career high was 20 points earlier this season."It would have been easy to come in here and overlook Northridge," Brown said. "Fortunately, we didn't do that."The Aggies won easily despite committing 26 turnovers -- the most for a Utah State team since the 1998-99 season. Northridge committed 15 turnovers."Other than that phase of the game, we played well," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "Northridge caused a lot of those but we had a lot of unforced ones."The Utah State school record for consecutive wins is 19, set in the 1999-00 season. The Aggies can move within one of that standard Saturday night at Pacific (16-7, 11-1), the Big West's second-place team.Eto Onyenegecha led Northridge (9-11, 5-7) with 12 points. Thomas Shewmake scored 11 points and Davin White had 10 points and six steals for the Matadors, who had won three of their previous four games."Player for player, we can match up," Onyenegecha said. "We didn't knock down shots that we usually knock down. If we would have converted all 26 turnovers, we could have beaten them."Ian Boylan, averaging 13.1 points, shot 1-for-13 in scoring two points for the Matadors, who shot 32.7 percent and were outrebounded 36-16."You can't win when you don't rebound and can't hit shots," Onyenegecha said.Utah State was the first ranked team ever to play at the cozy Northridge campus gym known as the Matadome, which seats 1,600. The announced attendance was 1,411.Northridge has a 1-12 overall record against ranked teams, with the one victory a 78-74 triumph over then-No. 15 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in November 2000.Utah State is ranked in The Associated Press poll for the first time since 1971. The Aggies broke into the rankings at No. 24 last week and moved up five slots this week."We haven't really dwelled on the ranking," Morrill said. "(But) we've enjoyed it."As they've been doing all season, the Aggies had another outstanding defensive game. They're fourth in the country in scoring defense and have held their last nine opponents and 12 of their last 14 under 60 points. They have also held 13 of their last 14 opponents to under 44 percent from the field.Brown scored five straight points to snap a 6-6 tie, triggering a 26-5 run that gave the Aggies a 32-11 lead with four minutes left before halftime. The Matadors weren't closer than 11 points after that.Brown, who brought an 8.4-point average into the game, scored nine of his team's first 11 during the decisive spurt.The Matadors made their first two shots for a quick 4-0 lead, but missed 19 of their next 22.Utah State led 35-18 at halftime despite committing 13 turnovers to only 13 for Northridge. At that stage, the Aggies were 15-of-20 from the floor to 8-of-30 for the Matadors and had a 21-7 rebounding advantage.Northridge shot 5-of-6 to begin the second half to draw within 13 points, and a 3-pointer by White with 12:11 remaining made it 45-34.That was as close as the Matadors would get.Brown scored 16 points as the Aggies outscored the Matadors 24-13 in the final 11:41 of play.