In a rematch of a one-point overtime defeat for the Wolverines last month on Jan. 23, the Utah Valley men’s basketball team hosted the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners at the UCCU Center. UVU entered the game on Thursday, Feb. 20 with a 9-17 record and picked up their 10th win after beating CSUB 72-58.
In the first half, the Wolverines didn’t have much luck shooting from the field, but the Roadrunners’ aggressive defense translated into frequent trips to the foul line for UVU. The Wolverines made 13-of-17 from the line, compared to 4-of-6 for CSUB. Eight different Wolverines scored during the first half, though, when the team hit their stride.
UVU ended the half on a 7-0 run, capped off by a forceful slam dunk by junior guard Jamison Overton as time expired. Junior guard Brandon Averette shot 3-of-3 from behind the three-point line and had 10 total points to help give the Wolverines a 39-30 lead.
Less than four minutes into the second half, senior forward Emmanuel Olojakpoke recorded his third blocked shot of the game, setting a new school record for blocked shots in a single season with 72. Previously, the record was held by Akolda Manyang who played in 2017-2018.
UVU’s momentum to end the half didn’t seem to carry over as the Roadrunners fought to keep the score close. The Wolverines led by as much as 11, but their lead was cut to four by the 12-minute mark. This time around, they found themselves in foul trouble early on and were unable to take advantage of the charity stripe the way they did in the first half.
Although they didn’t shoot great from behind the arc (3-of-10), the Wolverines shot 48% from the field and found a rhythm late in the game. CSUB switched to a full-court press defense as UVU started to pull ahead, but the Wolverines were prepared and repeatedly cleared half-court, getting the ball to the post for easy layups.
Senior guard T.J. Washington grabbed five steals in the game, with three of them coming in the last five minutes of play. A fast break score by Washington gave UVU a 15-point lead with 4:32 left to put the game out of reach.
The Wolverines’ team-friendly offense paved the way to victory with four players scoring in double-digits — Averette led the team with 20 points. CSUB junior guard Cam Allen scored 25 points, but no other Roadrunner managed to score more than nine. Washington recorded five assists to go along with his five steals.
After improving to 10-17 overall and 4-8 in conference games, UVU will now stay at home to host Grand Canyon on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. MST at the UCCU Center.
Photo by Cameron Hunsinger