Fardaws Aimaq recorded his nation-leading 17th double-double this season, scoring 15 points and pulling down 14 rebounds as the Wolverines cruised past Lamar on Saturday at the UCCU Center.
Connor Harding had 12 points and Le’Tre Darthard added 11 points of his own as they carried the team in the first half.
“You have to give Lamar a lot of credit, they came out in the second half when we were up by 16 and they controlled the tempo,” said head coach Mark Madsen in a postgame interview with Jim McCullough on ESPN 960. “When it’s all said and done I’m proud of our guys. Winning in any league at any level is difficult and hard and I’m proud of our guys for playing a strong game.”
After starting off conference play 3-3, every game for UVU from this point on is going to be crucial for them if they want to have any chance at another WAC regular season championship. Even if it’s a home game against a 2-16 Lamar team coming off of 11 consecutive losses, two of which were forfeits due to COVID-19.
The Wolverines came into this game knowing just how important it would be and it showed in the way that they played.
Harding started off the game hot for the Wolverines as he had all six of the teams’ points despite UVU trailing Lamar 8-6 early. From that point on in the first half it was all UVU. The Wolverines built a 32-16 lead before the break behind Darthard’s 9 first-half points. UVU shot 41% from the field and 40% from 3-point range while Lamar shot just 22% from the field and went 0-7 from behind the arc.
Jaden Mcclanahan gave the Wolverines solid minutes off the bench when he entered the game midway through the first half. With 6:50 to go Aimaq knocked the ball free from Ellis Johnson’s possession and hit Mcclanahan with the outlet pass on the fast break. Mcclanahan stopped just outside the left block and sent a one-handed pass to a trailing Aimaq that led to a two-hand slam and subsequent Lamar timeout. After the timeout, Mcclanahan hit a 3-point shot on the ensuing Wolverine possession, pushing their lead to 14.
UVU scored just seven points coming out of halftime before going the next six and a half minutes without a bucket. During that time Lamar was able to cut the Wolverines 16 point lead to 10. Aimaq stopped the bleeding by hitting two free throws to push the Wolverines lead to 11, 41-29. UVU wouldn’t look back from that point on en route to their fourth conference win on the season.
The Wolverines will now head to play Chicago State on the road on Jan. 27. The game tips off at 6 p.m. MT and will be broadcast on ESPN+ and ESPN 960 AM radio.
Brice Larson is currently a Junior at UVU majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and media studies. He enjoys everything about sports and one day hopes to become a college football analyst and play by play commentator.