LOGAN, Utah—James Walker III knew what awaited him Thursday night, having played at Utah State as a freshman.

When the raucous student section chanted "Ag-gies Re-ject," it only fueled his fire.

The Saint Mary's junior scored a career-high 14 points in his return to Logan, and Matthew Dellavedova led the Gaels with 21 points in a 67-58 victory over Utah State.

Stephen Holt added 16 points for the Gaels (2-0).

"I had so many thoughts," Walker said. "I was excited and nervous at the same time because I knew it was going to be a long night with that student section breathing down my neck, yelling out different names and stuff like that."

"I enjoyed my freshman year here and had no hard feelings, but to come back in a visitor's uniform and get a win was pretty exciting," he added.

It was a rare home loss for the Aggies, who saw their 37-game home winning streak end the last time the Gaels visited in December 2009.

Dellavedova was part of that win as a freshman, as were several Saint Mary's teammates.

"That was huge," Dellavedova said of the streak-busting win. "It was the most hostile environment to play in on the road up to that point ... and we were looking forward to coming back here because we knew how hard we had to work for that win."

Without Walker, who spent last season at Citrus College, this one would have been tougher.

Walker averaged just 2.1 points as a freshman at Utah State, and scored only three points in the Aggies' win over Saint Mary's that season.

In Saint Mary's season-opening win Saturday over Division II Sonoma State, he had just six points. He had twice that by halftime Thursday and finished shooting 5 of 9, with two 3-pointers and three steals.

"He did a great job," Dellavedova said. "It's a tough environment, but he came in, hit his first couple of shots. Defensively he brought all that energy and changed the game that way, got some loose balls. He's already an important part of this team, and I think he'll only grow as we go forward."

Walker's free throws pushed Saint Mary's lead to 10 points with 13:48 left, and the Gaels still led by 10, 48-38, with 10:46 remaining after Kyle Rowley's put-back. But back-to-back shots by Spencer Butterfield and Jarred Shaw cut the Gaels' lead to six with a little over 8 minutes to play.

Danny Berger's 3-pointer with 5 minutes left made it a three-point game, and the Aggies had a chance to cut it to one after Dellavedova missed a 3-pointer. But Spencer Medlin didn't get a call against Dellavadova after missing a fast-break layup at the other end.

Dellevadova sank both his free throws on the ensuing possession to bump the Gaels' lead to 56-51 with 4:02 left, and his 3-pointer sealed it.

Afterward, Utah State coach Stew Morrill told his players they had nothing to be embarrassed about.

"We played a very good Saint Mary's team," Morrill said. "They have an NBA player who is something special, and he did a great job of controlling that game.

"I think we're going to have a good basketball team, I really do. I'm not doom-and-gloom about that game and I don't want our kids to be. We've just got some guys who need to find their way. We were nervous. We didn't shoot the ball well. We hung in there and kept competing but just couldn't make shots."

The Aggies shot just 32.3 percent and made only 3 of 16 from 3-point range.

Shaw led Utah State (1-1) with 17 points and 15 rebounds and Kyisean Reed added 16 points and four steals for the Aggies.

Medlin finished with seven points but made just 3 of 11 shots. TeNale Roland was 1 of 9 but had to expend a lot of energy trying to slow down Dellavedova, the reigning West Coast Conference player of the year.

The Aggies were hoping to use Thursday's game as a measuring stick of sorts. The Gaels are the two-time defending West Coast Conference champions, spending much of 2011-12 ranked in the Top 25 en route to a 27-win season and their seventh NCAA tournament berth.

Utah State finished a disappointing fourth in the Western Athletic Conference last season but is picked to contend for the title this year. 

The Aggies also were hoping for a little payback. They defeated the Gaels in Moraga, Calif., the last time the teams met, in February 2011. But the last time Saint Mary's visited Logan, on Dec. 5, 2009, they halted Utah State's 37-game home win streak—at the time, the second-longest in the country.

This one was physical from the start, and Utah State came primed for the win in front of its raucous student section.

Utah State jumped out to a 6-0 lead, with Medlin's coast-to-coast layup after a behind-the-back dribble capping the run to open the game. Berger's 3-pointer bumped the Aggies' lead to 9-3.

The Gaels came back, using 3-pointers (9 of 22 overall and 6 of 9 in the first half) and the bench play of Walker.

The only negative for Saint Mary's was rebounding as the Aggies held a 49-30 edge.

"We got killed on the boards," Walker said. "Coach was on us. That's what kept them in the game. We knew if we came out in the second half, rebounded and played defense, we'd get the win."