“We did a better job of settling down and taking care of the basketball in the second half, but I’m disappointed we didn’t compete better physically,” said Head Coach Dick Hunsaker after UVU’s loss to Chattanooga in the championship game.
The two-day tournament started off strong as UVU battled against Austin Peay and Nick Thompson posted UVU’s first ever triple-double in the game to take the Wolverines to victory, 84-77. Thompson finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and, another UVU first, 12 assists to end his night. Thompson had some key moments in the game, including a couple of assists near the end to Alfonzo Hubbard to put the Wolverines up for good. But coach Hunsaker didn’t give all the credit to his star forward.
“This was a very good team win,” Hunsaker said. “We were very efficient offensively, competed and played unselfish basketball. The team was able to get out in transition and had a good attacking mode to the rim, and we had guys make key plays down the stretch. I’m very happy for the guys and how hard they worked.”
Senior Ben Aird scored 26 points for the Wolverines, and junior Holton Hunsaker contributed 21 points of his own to help take care of business against Austin Peay. UVU ended up shooting 61 percent from the floor, also a season high.
Holton Hunsaker wasn’t done there though. As UVU advanced to the championship game, Hunsaker dropped a career high of 37 points against Chattanooga. Hunsaker also scored on eight three-pointers, tying a school record for most three-pointers in a single game. Despite Hunsaker’s effort though, turnovers ended up blemishing the Wolverines’ efforts on the night as they lost the game to Chattanooga, 76-69.
“[Chattanooga] outplayed and outhustled us on the backboards,” Hunsaker said after the game.
After having a triple-double the night before, Thompson only chipped in nine points and two assists on the night. Both Hunsaker and Thompson were still named to the all-tournament team.
In the month of December, UVU traded wins for losses. The Wolverines sit on a 7-9 record/ With 15 games left in their season, they look to turn that negative into a positive, and they might have a crew to do just that. With Hunsaker’s career nights and Thompson’s consistency and versatility, Utah Valley will move forward in hopes that there are far more nights to remember than to forget.
Alex Rivera is the Sports Editor of the UVU Review. You can contact him at [email protected] or through his Twitter account @A_River_Uh.