Heart, soul, spirit not enough

Reading Time: 2 minutes Ben Aird scored 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks, but all the “heart, soul, spirit” was not enough for the Wolverines to overcome the Highlanders.

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Despite Ben Aird’s historic triple-double, Utah Valley fell short in their Great West Conference opener to the NJIT Highlanders at home in front of more than 3000 fans. This is the second game in a row that UVU lost, even though one of the players had a tremendous outing. In the previous game against Chattanooga, Holton Hunsaker scored 37 points, and the Wolverines still lost the game 84-77. On Jan. 5 it was more of the same, with Aird posting 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks, but UVU failed to capture the victory, falling to NJIT 57-52.

“It’s hard to have [my triple-double] overshadowed with a loss,” Aird said after the game. “You can score 50 points and if you lose, you’re not going to be very happy about it.”

This was the second triple-double of the season and of Utah Valley history, the first one posted by Nick Thompson just two games before. But despite the heroics by Aird, Utah Valley still fell and are now looking at a 7-10 record and an 0-1 conference record.

JohnsonNJIT came out strong in the first half of the game, not letting UVU find any sort of rhythm. The Highlanders went on a 9-0 run before Antoine Hosley knocked down a three pointer to stop the bleeding for a bit. At the half, the Highlanders were up 24-15 and didn’t seem like they were going to slow down.

“I thought we’d come back,” Head Coach Dick Hunsaker said. “We had spirit, and I thought we’d come back and compete and fight.”

The Wolverines did just that when they tied the game at 30 with a jumper by Alfonzo Hubbard and eventually took the lead with a layup from the player of the game, Aird. The Wolverines stayed ahead for quite some time. The change came when UVU started letting the Highlanders get second-chance shots. NJIT had 20 offensive rebounds in the game, which allowed them to get more chances on the board. This eventually led to UVU’s demise as NJIT capitalized on their scoring chances and took the lead with just under three minutes in the game. They never looked back, sealing the victory with two clutch free throws to make the game 57-52.

“I feel like they got far too many offensive rebounds and second chances,” Aird said. “We have to put a body in. We just can’t do that. We have to be better than that.”

With a home loss now in the record books, the Wolverines will turn their attention to playing as a unit. With amazing individual performances by Thompson, Hunsaker and Aird, they now need to put it all together and be successful throughout the rest of the season.

“Aird was absolutely fabulous,” Hunsaker said. “Heart, soul, spirit in every play. That’s where basketball is a team game. You’re always only as good as your teammates will allow you to be and the success is all within your teammates. It’s a team game.”

Alex Rivera is the Sports Editor for the UVU Review at Utah Valley University. Feel free to contact him at his email address: [email protected] or his Twitter @A_River_Uh