Men’s basketball: UVU beats UC Davis 80-71 in home-opener

Photo by Maricel Evangelista

OREM — The UVU men’s basketball team overcame a halftime deficit to beat UC Davis 80-71 Saturday afternoon in the season’s first game at the UCCU Center.

UVU (2-2) was led on offense by senior Kenneth Ogbe who had 21 points with a killer 3-of-4 mark on shots from beyond the arc. After recovering from a collarbone injury sustained in the offseason, Ogbe turned in his best effort of the young season.

“I do feel a lot better,” Ogbe said. “I’m getting way more confident driving to the basket. A couple weeks ago I was a little scared of getting through contact but now I’m feeling really comfortable.”

In the second half, UVU held off long runs from Davis (2-1) after falling behind in the first half. After a 10-2 Aggies’ run with 9:19 remaining in regulation, the Wolverines responded with 12-0 run of their own. Conner Toolson drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give UVU a 70-58 lead and force a timeout from Davis head coach Jim Les with 6:17 remaining in the game.

“Conner’s good to do that,” head coach Mark Pope said. “he’ll go bang a couple threes in a row.”

The Wolverines led by seven points midway through the first half after an Ogbe 3-pointer made the score 23-16. Ogbe led both teams in scoring at the half with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field.

Two quick fouls forced center Akolda Manyang to spend the final 10 minutes of the first half on the bench and the Aggies capitalized on the opportunity. After Ogbe’s three, they went on a 21-10 run to close out the half with a 37-33 advantage.

“That was very frustrating,” Manyang said. “I hate the fact that I had to sit down and watch my team battle.”

“We were playing so slow,” Pope said. “We just got so pedestrian with our pace, that’s not how we play.”

Manyang was able to stay in the game for 12 minutes in second half and added a burst of energy to the Wolverines on both ends of the floor. He finished the day with 16 points and eight rebounds including two 3-point plays and a dunk that helped swing momentum for the home team.

“I’m trying to do what my team needs me to do,” Manyang said. “If that’s rebounding, blocking shots, scoring.”

The Wolverines finished the game with a 50 percent clip on 3-pointers, sinking 10-of-20. They also won the battle for rebounds with 33 to the Aggies’ 26. Without the foul trouble, Manyang and Isaac Neilson could have played more minutes and turned the margin even greater in UVU’s favor.

Chima Moneke, the 6-6 senior out of Australia, had 18 points and 12 rebounds to round out a double double for Davis. He led the team in scoring followed by TJ Shorts II who had 17 points.

UVU will remain at home where they will face Eastern Oregon Monday in the UCCU Center. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MDT.

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