Heart, soul, spirit not enough
“It’s hard to have [my triple-double] overshadowed with a loss,” Aird said after the game. “You can score 50 points and if you lose, you’re not going to be very happy about it.”
This was the second triple-double of the season and of Utah Valley history, the first one posted by Nick Thompson just two games before. But despite the heroics by Aird, Utah Valley still fell and are now looking at a 7-10 record and an 0-1 conference record.
NJIT came out strong in the first half of the game, not letting UVU find any sort of rhythm. The Highlanders went on a 9-0 run before Antoine Hosley knocked down a three pointer to stop the bleeding for a bit. At the half, the Highlanders were up 24-15 and didn’t seem like they were going to slow down.
“I thought we’d come back,” Head Coach Dick Hunsaker said. “We had spirit, and I thought we’d come back and compete and fight.”
The Wolverines did just that when they tied the game at 30 with a jumper by Alfonzo Hubbard and eventually took the lead with a layup from the player of the game, Aird. The Wolverines stayed ahead for quite some time. The change came when UVU started letting the Highlanders get second-chance shots. NJIT had 20 offensive rebounds in the game, which allowed them to get more chances on the board. This eventually led to UVU’s demise as NJIT capitalized on their scoring chances and took the lead with just under three minutes in the game. They never looked back, sealing the victory with two clutch free throws to make the game 57-52.
“I feel like they got far too many offensive rebounds and second chances,” Aird said. “We have to put a body in. We just can’t do that. We have to be better than that.”
With a home loss now in the record books, the Wolverines will turn their attention to playing as a unit. With amazing individual performances by Thompson, Hunsaker and Aird, they now need to put it all together and be successful throughout the rest of the season.
“Aird was absolutely fabulous,” Hunsaker said. “Heart, soul, spirit in every play. That’s where basketball is a team game. You’re always only as good as your teammates will allow you to be and the success is all within your teammates. It’s a team game.”
Alex Rivera is the Sports Editor for the UVU Review at Utah Valley University. Feel free to contact him at his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or his Twitter @A_River_Uh