Utah Valley men’s basketball took their first road trip to Denver to take on the University of Denver on Saturday, Nov. 9. A hard-fought, close game the entire way led to Denver taking control with minutes left — giving the Wolverines their first loss of the season, 74-62.
The Pioneers came into the matchup with a loss against their in-state foe Colorado State, while UVU started the season with a win against Westminster. The two teams went head-to-head last season with a different outcome, the Wolverines taking the victory in Orem, 98-75.
A lot of back-and-forth took place in the first half of play, although the Wolverines were able to maintain control. At their best, UVU held a six-point lead, 22-16, thanks to a big 3-pointer from junior guard Brandon Averette — who would finish the day with a team-high 17 points. The three-and-a-half minute mark would be the turning point for Denver as they took control of the lead and ran with it. A 9-0 run in favor of the Pioneers ended the first half 39-30.
An early deep ball from junior forward Casdon Jardine got the ball rolling again for the Wolverines. The back-and-forth started over again, with the Pioneers leading by as many as eight points. Several successful trips to the charity stripe by sophomore guard Trey Woodbury and junior guard Isaiah White helped cut the deficit.
A huge shot from deep by junior guard Cavit Ege Havsa got the Wolverines their largest lead of the half, 50-46, with 12:32 left to play. From there, the Pioneers took control of the lead and weren’t about to let the Wolverines have it back. Denver climbed to as many as a 17-point advantage, the highest by either team in the game. UVU was able to cut that lead down to 12 with a trip to the free throw line by Averette, but the buzzer would sound with the final score of 74-62.
Noteworthy performances came from Averette and Woodbury, both of whom put up double-digits, 17 and 12, respectively. White snatched up 10 rebounds to go along with nine points.
An area where the Wolverines have yet to find their groove is points from behind the arc. UVU shot 5-23, 21.7 percent from deep in the game after shooting 33.3 percent the game before. An area where the Wolverines will most likely be pretty consistent in all season long is points from the stripe — shooting 78.6 percent against Denver.
The Wolverines will head back home to host Ottawa University on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. MST. From there, they will participate in the BBN Showcase, where they will face off against a college basketball giant, the University of Kentucky.