Published December 08, 2012
LOGAN, Utah – Freshman Marcel Davis scored a career-high 21 points, Preston Medlin added 18 and Utah State crushed Western Oregon 86-57 on Saturday night in an emotional game before an Aggies teammate who had collapsed and had to be revived four days earlier.
"It's been a tough week," Medlin said of witnessing Danny Berger suffer cardiac arrest during practice Tuesday. "It was good to see Danny back out there."
The Wolves were within two points early in the second half before Medlin scored six straight and Davis took over — his points the most by an Aggies player this season.
Davis made 9 of 11 shots, including three 3-pointers. He had been averaging 2.2 points.
"Marcel was a huge boost off the bench. He played his heart out," said Spencer Butterfield, who started in place of Berger at forward.
Aggies players had patches with Berger's number, 12, stitched onto their uniforms, and signs read "We Love Danny" and "Welcome Home."
Berger, 22, had been discharged from a Salt Lake City area hospital earlier Saturday after having a small defibrillator installed under his skin in his chest. He hopes to play again though it will be weeks before he has a chance to begin that comeback attempt.
The raucous Dee Glen Smith Spectrum crowd chanted his name and signs praised longtime assistant trainer Mike Williams as "fantasy trainer" for saving Berger's life after he his heart stopped.
Butterfield said all he could think about before the game was Berger.
"I just wanted to come out and play hard for him," said Butterfield, who finished with 10 points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Aggies (5-1) an 11-8 lead and launched a 16-5 Utah State run.
Andy Avgi led Division II Western Oregon (6-3) with 15 points, and Kolton Nelson added 10.
Utah State led 38-31 at halftime thanks to a 16-4 edge on points in the paint and 38 percent shooting by the Wolves.
A 3-pointer by Devon Alexander cut Utah State's lead to 43-41 but the Aggies went on an 8-0 run, including three straight baskets by Medlin.
"They got back to their game in the second half," Western Oregon coach Brady Bergeson said. "They handled our pressure in the backcourt, attacked the mid-shots and really got us off the glass, which we knew was going to be a problem coming in."
Medlin said his second half made up for the first, which he said may have been his worst as an Aggie.
Davis, meanwhile, was sharp from the second he came off the bench. The 6-2 guard had been averaging 2.2 points but had already matched his previous career high of eight points by halftime.
Coach Stew Morrill called Davis the bright spot, other than seeing Berger, who was part of a pre-game coach hug-fest.
"It's been such an emotional week, maybe that played into it," Morrill said of the rusty start, and sluggish D that forced him to go zone.
He hoped next week, though finals week, would bring normalcy.
The one constant has been Aggie fans.
As the clock wound down in the blowout victory, they again chanted "Danny Berger, Danny Berger."
Berger shook hands with opposing players afterward before heading to the locker room.
The game was Utah State's first since an 80-78 overtime road victory over Santa Clara on Nov. 28. Wednesday's matchup against Brigham Young was postponed because of Berger's health scare. It has been rescheduled for Feb. 19 in Provo.
Berger entered the arena just after his teammates ran onto the court, wearing his letterman's jacket and his left arm in a sling because of the defibrillator. He flashed a smile at the standing ovation.
Berger, his father and Williams met with the media before the game, recalling the scene before, during and after the incident Tuesday afternoon on the same floor. Berger called his recovery a "miracle" and was excited to be back in Logan but was understandably tired.
"I'll be all right. I won't be running up and down the court," said Berger, who went to high school in Medford, Ore., and was averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds as a starting forward for the Aggies.
He doesn't remember much about the incident, except feeling dizzy as if he had stood up too fast.
"To be out (of the hospital) feels great," he said. "It's such a blessing to be alive and to have another chance. I'm thankful for a lot of people."
Williams did CPR then used an automatic defibrillator on Berger to get his heart working again. Berger was taken to a local hospital then flown to Intermountain Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition until Thursday. By Friday he was on a treadmill as doctors tested his heart.
Berger couldn't say whether he would be ready for the BYU game, after all, until Tuesday his most serious health problem had been a mild concussion and sprained ankle.
His family and his second family at the Spectrum were just glad he was alive.