Utah Valley falls just short at Weber State in CIT first round
Holton Hunsaker’s 3-point attempt as time expired fell just short, and the UVU men’s basketball team lost 72-69 to Weber State at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.
Isiah Williams scored a game-high 26 points for the Wolverines, who came back from 13 down in the second half and had a chance to take the lead in the final minutes. Williams nailed a 3-pointer from the wing in answer to Damian Lillard’s trey on the previous possession to tie the game at 69-69 with 38 seconds remaining. Lillard then made 1-of-2 free throws, but Keith Thompson turned the ball over on the ensuing possesion, forcing UVU to foul.
Scott Bamforth (__ points) made two free throws, giving UVU a three-point and the ball wtih three seconds remaining. The Wildcats doubled Williams on the wing, forcing him pass off to Hunsaker. The sophomore guard faked his man off his feet to give himself a good look at the basket, but the potential game-tying attempt was off.
The game marked UVU’s first-ever national postseason appearance in men’s basketball despite losing in the Great West Conference quarterfinals five days previous. Williams made up for his 7-of-26 shooting performance against NJIT, hitting 10-of-19 shots in an effort to match Lillard, the nation’s second leading scorer (24.5 points per game).
The Wolverines started the game on a 7-0 run, but 17 turnovers fed a sputtering Wildcat offense and prevented UVU from ever pulling away. Bamforth scord 14 of his 16 points in the second half as Weber St. repeatedly hurt UVU’s zone defense from behind the arc. They adjusted, resulting in three blocked shots from Keith Thompson.
The senior forward also had 10 points and two steals, but also committed eight turnovers, including the key giveaway on one of UVU’s two potential go-ahead possessions in the final minute.
Utah Valley ended the season with an overall record of 20-13, including a 13-game winning streak before losing their regular season finale to North Dakota. Williams and Geddes Robinson, who hauled in 11 rebounds Tuesday night, were named All-GWC First Team and head coach Dick Hunsaker was awarded conference Coach of the Year.
Williams, Robinson, Thompson and reserves Kevin Woods and Rory Fannon are the five players seniors slated to move after this school year.