Wolverines surrender halftime lead, fall 64-61 at Mount St. Mary’s

The Utah Valley men’s basketball team lost 64-61 to the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers in Emmitsburg, Maryland on Tuesday night, Nov. 26. Despite leading for the majority of the game, the Wolverines went without a field goal in the final two and a half minutes to allow a late comeback by the Mountaineers.

MSMU has played a difficult early season schedule and came into this game at 1-5, with losses to Georgetown, Washington and Kentucky. They defeated Gettysburg 75-58 in their only other home game this year on Nov. 9.

Junior forward Casdon Jardine got the scoring started early for the Wolverines by hitting three-straight 3-pointers to start the game. The Mountaineers battled back with an 8-0 run of their own midway through the first half, led by sophomore forward Nana Opoku, who finished the half with six points and five rebounds.

Senior guard TJ Washington — who was named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week on Monday, Nov. 25 — didn’t see his first bucket fall until the 12 minute mark, thanks to tight defense by the Mountaineers. Following seven quick points scored by Washington, the Wolverines went scoreless for over four minutes. Opoku capped off another Mountaineers run with a strong fast break dunk to give the home team a 20-18 lead with five minutes to play in the first half.

UVU finished the half with a 29-24 lead, despite shooting only 32.3 percent from the field and 25 percent from behind the 3-point line. The Wolverines also struggled on the glass, allowing nine offensive rebounds in the first half.  

The Wolverines put up a strong defensive showing in the second half, holding the Mountaineers to 34.9 percent from the field. Poor defensive rebounding plagued UVU in the second half though, as second-chance buckets by the Mountaineers kept them from extending their lead beyond seven points.  

MSMU sophomore guard Damian Chong Qui found his stroke late in the second half, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the final seven minutes of the game. Junior guard Jalen Gibbs added critical points for the Mountaineers by shooting 3-of-4 from the foul line down the stretch.

Trailing by one with 40 seconds to play, Washington committed a costly turnover for UVU which led to a Chong Qui layup with twelve seconds on the clock. Washington had a chance to tie the game with a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer but wasn’t able to connect.

Jardine finished the game with his first career double-double, with 11 rebounds and a career-high 25 points on 17 shot attempts. Washington added 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting.  

The Wolverines now head to Fort Collins, Colorado where they will take on Colorado State on Sunday, Dec. 1.

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