Wolverines triumph over Lancers on senior night 63-54

Justin Harmon sets up the Wolverine offense (Photo courtesy of Nathan Jackson).

Utah Valley defeated California Baptist 63-54 on Saturday, Feb. 26, behind Fardaws Aimaq and Trey Farrer. The pair combined for 33 points to send the seniors off in fashion in what will be Aimaq’s final game at the UCCU center as a Wolverine. 

Aimaq, Conner Harding, Asa McCord, Brock Anderson, and Colby Leifson were all honored as “seniors” before the game started even though they all have eligibility remaining. Aimaq is preparing to enter the NBA draft. Harding plans to join his wife Paisley Harding, who plays basketball at BYU, as she chases a career in professional basketball. McCord, Anderson and Leifson all are moving on due to personal reasons. 

Head Coach Mark Madsen had a lot to say about this group of players who are on their way out, but none were of more praise than what he had to say about his standout 6-foot-11-inch center Aimaq. 

“When Fardaws set foot on this campus two and a half years ago, we knew the expectations that he had for himself… but I can’t even imagine that Fardaws knew he would have the level of success that he has had,” Madsen said. 

That success has come for Aimaq in the form of multiple awards, a WAC championship in the 2020-21 season, and his performance this season leading the nation in double-doubles while averaging 19.2 points per game and 13.9 rebounds per game. 

On Saturday Aimaq continued his double-double domination scoring 20 points and pulling down 16 rebounds against the Lancers. The game started off rough shooting-wise for both teams as they struggled to find the bottom of the net. 

Midway through the first half UVU went on a 14-2 run while CBU shot just 1-11 from the field over a span of seven minutes. UVU pushed their lead to 9 after McCord hit a layup to force a CBU timeout. 

UVU did not shoot the ball particularly well in the first half, going 42% from the field and 2-5 from beyond the arc, but CBU limited themselves by only scoring two points off of seven of UVU’s first-half turnovers. CBU shot just 25% from the field in the first half and 18% on 3-point attempts. 

Despite obtaining their largest lead with 9:51 to go in the game, just three minutes later Lancer guard Taran Armstrong hit a 3-point shot to cut UVU’s lead to seven. On the following Lancer possession, Armstrong cut the lead to 5 points but CBU head coach Rick Croy was assessed a technical foul after a called foul on one of his players. Blaze Nield shot two technical free throws, going one for two at the line. Aimaq then took two more free throws for the original foul and hit both effectively putting the game away for the Wolverines. 

“I think we are in a really great spot. You know, we have had some rough patches throughout the season, but we have shown that when we are locked in we can play with anybody,” Aimaq said. “The way that we are trending right now is in the right direction, it’s all positive from here.” 

The Wolverines will now take to the road for what could be the toughest two-game road stretch in the entire conference. UVU will play at GCU next Thursday then head to Las Cruces to face conference leader New Mexico State on Saturday. Both games will be broadcast live on ESPN+ and ESPN 960 AM. 

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