The Utah Valley men’s basketball team defeated UTRGV 66-56 at the UCCU center on Thursday, Jan 20. The Wolverines were able to withstand a late second-half run by the Vaqueros and pull out the win.
Four Wolverines scored in double-figures as the team utilized a balanced attack on the offensive end. Fardaws Aimaq notched his sixteenth double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds, Tim Fuller and Le’Tre Darthard each added in 13 points and Connor Harding put up 12 points in the win. Jaden McClanahan had a big night off the bench with nine points and five huge steals.
“There were a lot of great individual performances tonight,” said Wolverine head coach Mark Madsen. “I thought Jaden came in and gave us a huge boost off the bench. Jaden is a guy that just consistently works on his craft every day and made some big threes for us, helped control tempo, and did a nice job defensively. Obviously, Fardaws with the six assists, Fuller with a good game, and Le’Tre knocking down some big shots.”
In the first half, the Wolverines came out flat and fell into an early 13-2 deficit. The offense struggled to find rhythm as they went 0-8 from the field to start before Fuller finally found the basket for the Wolverines. It wasn’t until around midway through the half that the Wolverine offense began to find itself. Fuller helped to spark an 18-9 run and take the lead at one point 29-27. At the end of the first half, the Wolverines had clawed their way back and trailed just 30-29. UVU shot just 13-36 from the field and 3-10 from three. Despite the poor shooting, the game remained close.
In the second half, the Wolverines took control of the lead and grabbed a commanding 13-point advantage midway through the period. After shooting just 1-5 in the first half, Aimaq began to force the issue in the paint, getting to the free-throw line. The Wolverines flipped the script shooting in the second half and shot a blistering 52.4% from the field and 43% from behind the arc. Perimeter defense was critical, as the Wolverines held the Vaqueros to just 2-10 from three and forced seven turnovers in the final period alone. McClanahan came up with three of his five steals in the second half, making the difference down the stretch. The Wolverines rode their defense and made free throws when they mattered most to maintain their lead as they topped UTRGV 66-56.
In a stellar defensive showing, the Wolverines held UTRGV to just 29% shooting from three and forced 12 turnovers. The Wolverines also out-rebounded the Vaqueros 45-31, including 11 second chance points that helped secure the victory.
The Wolverines now move to 12-6 and 3-3 in WAC play. They will look to build their standing in the WAC with their next game against Lamar at the UCCU Center on Jan. 22. The game tips off at 2 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.
Sports Editor and Senior Staff Writer
Junior at Utah Valley University majoring in Communications with emphasis in Journalism and Media