Wolverines fall apart in second half, suffer fourth straight loss
Reading Time: 3 minutes Utah Valley posted one of the best halves of the season before allowing a 16-point comeback by Tarleton State.
Utah Valley Men’s Basketball fell apart after a dominating first half against Tarleton State on Thursday evening, making this the fourth straight loss for the Wolverines this season.
Utah Valley started off well, committing only a few turnovers while forcing four in the first six minutes, leading to an early 11-7 lead.
This lead was partly to junior guard Drake Allen, who has struggled as of late, but had two great plays at the rim and two assists to give Utah Valley a cushion.
Jaden McClanahan kept the fire going, hitting a 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down to keep the Texans in check.
Despite the hot start, UVU was just 1-5 from deep to start which would need to improve if they wanted to knock off the Texans.
Allen would continue his stellar game early, taking a loose ball coast-to-coast and flying to the rim for an athletic finish which received a wowing reaction from the crowd at the UCCU Center.
Utah Valley would use that crowd difference and push them on an 11-3 run, backed by a seven-point stretch from Ethan Potter, to give the Wolverines a 25-12 lead over the second-place Texans.
However, back-to-back-to-back turnovers by Utah Valley and Caleb Stone-Carrawell would give Tarleton State a quick 5-0 run.
Stone-Carrawell would make that up however with a triple to push the lead back to 11.
UVU would only grow their lead throughout the half, leading by as many as 16, and would head into the half with a 38-23 lead in what was undoubtedly their best half of basketball this season.
The second half was a different chapter of the story.
Not only was Utah Valley unable to score in the second half, they couldn’t stop the Texans at the rim.
Tarleton would go on a 17-5 run over the first eight minutes of the half, trimming the once 16-point lead down to three.
The Wolverines would start 1-11 from the field and 3-4 from the stripe to open the half.
14 fouls were called in the first half and up to the 11:55 mark in the second half there were already 11, putting both teams near the bonus with still nearly 12 minutes to go in the half.
After back-and-forth play, the Texans had erased the 16-point deficit and taken a lead for the first time since the 15-minute mark in the first half.
The Texans and Wolverines would alternate leads that would stay within 1-3 points until Tarleton would take a 60-55 lead with under four minutes to go.
Utah Valley would enter the media timeout down five and two shots at the line to make something happen over the last three minutes.
After converting one of two, the Wolverines needed to put together some stops to give them a chance.
Disaster struck after Tarleton State hit a three to go up seven with just over two minutes to play, which would be the dagger for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines would trim it to five before the Texans hit another three as the shot clock ran out and would take an eight-point lead with a minute to go.
Toolson would return the favor and trim the lead back to five with 56 seconds left.
The Wolverines would foul, and Tarleton would miss the one and one.
Utah Valley couldn’t convert on the other end and Tarleton would sink their next two free throws and abruptly end the game on a 12-6 run to finish off UVU.
A 16-point lead was erased and the Wolverines yet again struggled to close out a game, resulting in their fourth consecutive loss and seven of their last eight.
“Tale of two halves. We played really good in the first half and the second half was a flip-flop,” head coach Todd Phillips said. “You have to put two halves together.”
UVU moves to eighth place in the WAC which would leave them just barely in the tournament in March.
While yes, this is not a good loss and was a game Utah Valley needed to come away with, there are some positives still.
UVU will face the three bottom teams in the conference over the next four games in Abilene Christian, Southern Utah, and UTRGV. Two of which are at home.
This would allow the Wolverines to create some more separation between the eighth and ninth position in the WAC standings to move towards a tournament seed.
Nathan Dunn is the Sports Editor for the UVU Review. After three years at Utah State, Nathan is majoring in Public Relations and Digital Media at Utah Valley University. In his free time, Nathan likes to watch all sports but mostly College Football. Nathan works hard to give the best sports content to UVU fans, media, and students.