The time has come, but the time has not passed. The men’s basketball team walked off the court with a 76-69 victory against Chicago State as they closed out the season with their last-ever Great West Conference game win.
With only one non-conference game left, Utah Valley plans to use the Chicago State win as a force for good as they prepare for the GWC tournament for the last time before entering the Western Athletes Conference next season.
Things got really heated as the Wolverines pulled out a 20-point lead from the Cougars, prowling it out for the keepsake. Jason Johnson led the way with 24 points and five rebounds, breaking away from the tight first half and coming back with a huge run in the second half.
“It was very physical and played hard by both teams,” said Head Coach Dick Hunsaker. “I was very pleased with the intensity and a bit of desperation we played with in the second half.”
Even though Utah Valley finished up their last conference game of the season and last conference game ever, the fight still isn’t over. One more non-conference game will be held, but this one’s a little different.
Utah Valley will take on CSU Bakersfield in California, battling it out one last time as non-conference rivals. The Roadrunners will be joining the Wolverines in the WAC next season; This game was a preview of what to expect.
“We play very well on their court,” Hunsaker said. “Bakersfield has been playing very well the last couple months, and we know we’re going to really have to prepare ourselves for a terrific effort on senior night.”
With the WAC creeping just around the corner, the excitement and anticipation for it is set aside. They are focusing all efforts on the road to the California sun, bringing on the Bakersfield’s battle.
“When we wrap up this season, the Great West would be put to rest,” Hunsaker said. “But right now I’ve got to focus on and prepare the team for the game against Bakersfield and the conference tournament.”
It’s been quite a rocky whirlwind this year for the Wolverines, but nothing is better said than done. Finishing out the season 14-16 overall can leave the fans, families, coaches and teammates walking away with their heads held high, being proud of what they’ve accomplished.
Traveling on the road 14 out of 16 weeks can be tough, but no better attitudes have helped the team strive for successful victories then the brotherhood the Wolverines share.
“I’m very pleased and proud of my kids,” Hunsaker said. “To complete the season, basketball season entailed 18 weeks and we traveled 14 of them; that’s a very tactful schedule. I’m very pleased and I think the kids have fought to continue to get better.”