Men’s basketball: UVU drops overtime thriller to USU

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Photo by Brigham Berthold

OREM, Utah—Different squads, same result. After holding a lead or tie for the first 39 minutes of regulation Saturday, the UVU men’s basketball team fell to Utah State 80-79 in overtime. UVU moves to 0-12 all-time against the in-state Aggies.

Conner Toolson and Isaac Neilson both finished with double-doubles. Toolson led all scorers with 24 points to go with 11 rebounds, while Neilson tallied 16 points and 14 boards.

“We made some poor decisions down the stretch, which is 100 percent a result of coaching. A really great effort, we just fell a little bit short,” said head coach Mark Pope. “It’s not lost on me that we played this team a year ago and lost by 35. So as a program and as players, these guys are making unbelievable progress.”

After USU controlled the opening tipoff, Toolson took control of the game for UVU (5-4) with a driving layup on the right side after a pump fake on the perimeter. A Jordan Poydras 3-pointer gave UVU its largest lead of the night at 23-12 with 10:25 to play in the first half.

At that point, the Aggies began to slowly play into the Wolverines. Koby McEwen put USU within six at the half with a pair of free throws.

USU came out of the break energized and quickly tied the contest at 42 as McEwen knocked down the front end of a pair of free throws. UVU clung to its lead throughout the half, and extended its largest lead of the half to six on a layup by Zach Nelson.

With 1:57 left to play, McEwen nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 69 and the momentum began to swing in favor of the Aggies.

“I think that gave them momentum,” said Toolson. “I think we just didn’t execute down the stretch like really good teams have to do. We played good the whole game except for the last minute, made some mistakes and they executed like we didn’t.”

Kenneth Ogbe split a pair of free throws for a 70-69 UVU lead, then USU took a one-point lead with 1:03 to play as Shane Rector drove the lane and elevated for a rim shaking dunk. Neilson tied the game again as he split two shots from the free-throw line on the opposite end.

Rector sent the game to an extra period as he failed to knock down the game-winning shot with two seconds on the clock. Time expired as the ball fell into Neilson’s hands for the rebound.

Toolson gave UVU a 79-78 lead with a layup on the right side with just 6.8 seconds to play in overtime, but Rector came out of the ensuing USU timeout and was fouled by Brandon Randolph with 1.7 seconds remaining. After 1-for-5 shooting from the free-throw line on the rest of the night, Rector hit both free throws and put UVU  away .

With time short and the length of the court to go, Ogbe tracked down a fullcourt pass from Hayden Schenck, but he couldn’t corral it and the clock ran out for the final time.

UVU will take the week off then head up to Ogden to face Weber State on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. MT.