Dirt from the Coliseum would have been a more suitable surface for last Thursday night’s game than the wood floor of the UCCU Center.
With two teams struggling to turn around mediocre seasons, game play turned aggressive and physical as Utah Valley beat the Seattle University Redhawks 89-73.
For much of the second half, momentum was determined more by foul shooting than better play. Both teams went to the line with a combined 47 times in the second half alone. Six players amassed four fouls. Only Holton Hunsaker fouled out with two minutes, 12 seconds left to play.
Jordan Swarbrick had the only double-double, racking up 17 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field and going 8-for-8 in free throws.
Before he fouled out, Holton Hunsaker put the team up high with 18 points and six assists. Geddes Robinson, Ben Aird and Isiah Williams each had 14 points, with eight rebounds for Robinson and Aird.
“The game played very much as anticipated,” said Coach Dick Hunsaker. “Seattle is a very physical, very competitive team of players. I challenged my kids, starting Monday, about the physicality. I thought we really did the best we could.”
Prior to Thursday’s game, Seattle had out-rebounded nine of their last 12 opponents, and the Redhawks challenged the Wolverines under the basket the entire game. Robinson’s and Aird’s dominant performance in the paint helped lift UVU over the hurdle.
“We have some productive inside players,” said Coach Hunsaker. “I thought Geddes did a real nice job throughout this game and I thought Ben hit some very crucial shots.”
UVU struggled with poor shooting and a slow start in the first half despite the very aggressive play, posting an anemic 31.4 percent field-goal percentage. The Wolverines reversed that in the second half, shooting 70.8 percent from the field.
A major turning point for UVU came with 7:27 to play in the second when Swarbrick was fouled while tipping in a missed free throw. Those quick four points pushed their lead to 12 and held Seattle off for the remainder of the game.
“That four-point play was definitely something we needed,” said Swarbrick. “I missed a few shots before that and they’d hit a couple, and we just had guys stepping up all night.”
This win extends UVU’s win streak to three just as they enter the bulk of conference play, giving them some much needed momentum as they head out on the road to play North and South Dakota this week.