Wolverines rally, top Sam Houston 57-54

Fardaws Aimaq backs down a Sam Houston defender (Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics).

The Utah Valley men’s basketball team led all of 58 seconds against the Sam Houston State Bearkats, but the Wolverines were able to escape Huntsville, Texas with a 57-54 victory Saturday, Feb. 5. 

Fardaws Aimaq recorded his nation-leading 19th double-double of the season, leading all scorers with 24 points and grabbing 10 boards. Justin Harmon added 10 points off the bench, including a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining to put UVU up by three. Connor Harding pitched in eight points, all of which came in the second half, and five rebounds. 

The Wolverines out-rebounded the Bearkats 40 to 28, which helped offset the 20 turnovers that put UVU behind the eight ball early.

Outside of Aimaq, the Wolverines were ice cold in the first half, shooting just 33% from the field. Aimaq had 13 of UVU’s 22 first-half points, going 4-for-7 from the field and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line. The rest of the team went just 3-for-15 in the opening period but trailed by only eight at intermission. 

Coming out of halftime, SHSU pushed the lead up to a game-high 10 points, but the Wolverines were able to respond with an 8-2 run led by a pair of threes from Harding and Blaze Nield to trim the lead back down to four. 

The Bearkats’ lead never grew above six for the remainder of the night, but it took the Wolverines a while to break through and finally take the lead. UVU cut the lead down to one three times, first at the 6:29 mark following a transition layup from Aimaq, and secondly at the 5:20 mark following a pair of free throws from Harmon.

The third time was the charm for the Wolverines, as they closed out the game on an 8-0 run to take the lead for the first time with 58 seconds to play off of a Harmon layup. On their next possession, Aimaq missed the front end of a one and one, but an airball three from SHSU’s Jarren Cook sailed harmlessly out of bounds. Harmon was then able to ice the game with a pair of free throws to close out the game.

The Wolverines held the lead for the least amount of time in a victory in the school’s Division I history. The most recent game that came close to touching this record was in the 2016-17 season when UVU overcame a 27-point deficit to defeat Denver, but the Wolverines led for about three minutes of that game. 

Following Saturday’s come-from-behind victory, the Wolverines improved to 15-7 on the season (6-4 WAC). UVU will now return home for arguably their toughest homestand of the season, facing off against two of the top teams in the WAC in Grand Canyon and New Mexico State. 

Thursday’s game against the Lopes is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. MDT at the UCCU Center. The game can be streamed on ESPN+ or via the radio on ESPN 960. 

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