It wasn’t until Holton Hunsaker, who was struggling through the first half of the game, knocked down two deficit-cutting triples before passing it to Jason Johnson to tie the game at 53.
The crowd continued to cheer for their Wolverines in hopes that this homecoming night would not be spoiled. But with Ben Aird up at the line, who had only been shooting 50 percent from the charity stripe, the Wolverines chances were hanging int the balance as tensions ran high. But they were able to hang on when he made two free clutch free throws to tie the game and send it to overtime.
In overtime, it was mostly all Utah Valley as the Wolverines took control of the ball early on and made a layup on their first possession. They went on to win it in overtime, 67-63, behind yet another three-pointer from Hunsaker and some solid free-throw shooting down the stretch.
“A solid team win tonight in what was a battle of wills,” said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker after the victory.
It wasn’t without its flaws, though. Athough UVU got the victory in points, the Wolverines were outrebounded and shot less accurately from field goal range. They excelled over Pepperdine in assists (18) and forced 17 turnovers with solid defense up front.
“We worked hard defensively and we did a fabulous job taking care of the basketball,” Coach Hunsaker continued. “We found a way to win and at this stage in the season that’s going to help us build some confidence.”
Many players stood out in the team effort including guard Holton Hunsaker who ended the game with 22 points and five assists in 41 minutes of play. He went 5-15 (33 percent) from the three-point line and 6-16 (37.5 percent) from field goal range. Ben Aird was one shy from a double-double, posting 19 points and nine rebounds. Nick Thompson chipped in nine points of his own and seven assists to end his night. Antoine Hosley had six points off the bench and had more playing time than starter Alfonzo Hubbard, who scored six of his own with three assists.
UVU entered the game on a three-game losing streak so the victory was a long time coming. The Wolverines’ last victory was before Thanksgiving when they defeated Eastern Washington University. Since then they have lost to Santa Clara, USC Upstate, and North Carolina Central by an average of 17 points. It was a much needed victory for the Wolverines as they took that victory with them to face Weber State and then traveled to Troy University in Alabama (see WolverineGreen.com for scores and recaps).
UVU hopes to ride the momentum it received at Homecoming as the Wolverines will play host to Utah State University Saturday the 15 of December. Tip-off is set at 7:05 p.m. (MT) and will be televised on the Fox College Sports Network as well as UVU-TV.
Alex Rivera is the assistant sports editor of the UVU Review. You can contact him at [email protected] or through his Twitter account @A_River_Uh.