The Cowboys of Wyoming took their show on the road, brought their 12-2 record down to the UCCU Center and wrangled the UVU Wolverines (7-9) with a 76-70 non-conference win.
After a 34-point drubbing in Laramie, the Wolverines showed they were capable of competing in a big-time rodeo as they were within one point with ten seconds to play. Isiah Williams lost possession but the loose ball was picked up by Keith Thompson, who went strong to the basket and converted a layup that would have given the Wolverines a one-point lead. Instead the basket was waived off and Thompson was whistled for the offensive foul.
“That was a pivotal call,” said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. “Instead of taking a lead and possibly having a free throw if the call had gone the other way, we stay down one and have to foul.”
Following two free-throws by Adam Waddell of Wyoming, the Wolverines were in desperate need of a 3-point attempt. Williams was 5-of-7 from long-range on the night, but the Cowboys denied him from receiving a pass, leaving point guard Holton Hunsaker the Wolverines final hope.
His shot didn’t make it to the rim, but it was a controversial no-call that left coach Hunsaker fuming. It took two coaches to restrain him as he picked up a technical foul, giving Wyoming two more free throws.
There will be no moral victories for Hunsaker, Williams, and the whole team.
“I know there is nobody that likes to lose in our locker room,” Williams said. “We feel good about the way we played but we feel like we should have won.
Hunsaker would concur with his star shooting guard.
“We played good enough to win tonight,” Hunsaker said. “It’s tough to compete so hard and be in a position to win and let it slip away.”
Williams led the way for UVU, finishing with 23 points, two rebounds, and one assist.Thompson chipped in 13 points, six rebounds, one block, and one steal. As a team the Wolverines had a huge 32-21 edge in rebounding, shot 7-of-16 beyond the arc and made 17-of-18 from the free-throw line.
There was a raucous crowd at the UCCU center with a season high 6,556 fans in attendance that cheered on a valiant effort by the home team, only to see the Wolverines drop to 7-10 on the season.
The Wolverines will take on Seattle University Saturday in Orem before taking to the road and playing Seattle on Jan. 13 in back-to-back games. Seattle was chosen over Utah Valley by the WAC last summer in a devastating move for the Wolverines.