Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics
LAS VEGAS, Nevada– The No. 4 seeded UVU men’s basketball team cruised over No. 5 seeded Seattle University 65-53 to advance to the semifinals in the WAC Tournament. This win marks a couple landmarks for the team. This is the first conference tournament win for head coach Mark Pope, and it’s the first time in school history that both the men and women’s teams advance to the semifinals of their respective WAC tournaments.
“The way [Seattle] plays is a really hard matchup for what we do,” Pope said. “They played really hard today, I’m proud of my guys that they could overcome all that.”
Pope made it a point all week to focus on offensive rebounds and controlling the boards. UVU outrebounded SU 46 to 26 and scored 13 points on second chance opportunities.
SU was the first to score, but the lead was almost immediately erased when Jordan Poydras hit a 3-point shot on the ensuing possession. Seattle took a short lead again before a 3-pointer from Kenneth Ogbe erased their second lead. From that point on, UVU led the rest of the game. Seattle’s total time leading was less than one minute.
Seniors Poydras and Ivory Young led the team in scoring, with Poydras doing a lot of work early and Young hitting a pair of threes in back-to-back possessions, putting UVU comfortably ahead for the rest of the game.
“I’m not ready for this to be over, playing with these guys,” Poydras said. “I love playing with these guys, and that’s why I played so hard, because I didn’t want this to be over.”
“I was just trying to knock shots down,” Young said. “My teammates have a lot of faith in me, they always find me. We played really good defense after [the two threes], that was the key.”
After the pair of threes by Young, UVU went on to stay ahead of Seattle at about the same pace. Brandon Randolph was given the ball within two minutes and went on to make eight free throws, putting the game out of reach for SU and giving the Wolverines the win.
For the next match UVU will play No. 1 seeded Cal State University Bakersfield, a team that has beaten the Wolverines twice this season.
“This Bakersfield field team is a special team. Their star players are just as happy to score no points but have five assists and 11 rebounds, as they are to have 20 points,” Pope said. “We’re ecstatic to have the challenge. We understand and they’re a great team. We have full confidence that we can compete in this game, and we’re coming to this game to win. It’s going to be a colossal battle. It’s going to be as good as WAC basketball gets.”
The semifinal game against CSUB tips off Friday at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
My name is Adam Cichoski, I’m a junior at UVU studying Journalism. Sports is my passion, especially football. I’m originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. My plan after school is to pursue a job in sports journalism.