Men’s basketball: UVU drops season opener to Gonzaga

Photo by Jesse Sanchez

SPOKANE, Wash.—Despite a lopsided score, the Utah Valley University men’s basketball team has a lot of upside to take away from a 92-69 loss to Gonzaga Friday night. Conner Toolson led UVU with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting on the night.

Gonzaga’s Jordan Mathews hit a 3-pointer and the Bulldogs took an 8-0 lead just 29 seconds into the game, and it looked like the route was on. However, UVU (0-1) proved resilient and stayed in the fight rather than roll over early. It took just over two minutes into the game, but Toolson answered and put UVU on the board with a 3-pointer of his own.

The Bulldogs put together two runs in the first half, but UVU managed to cut the lead to five with 6:12 to play in the half on a 3-pointer from Kenneth Ogbe. However, Gonzaga went on a 15-7 run to close the half with a 45-32 lead.

The Wolverines were able to stick to most of their game plan in the first half and got to the free-throw line nine times, but could only convert on four attempts.

The second half was all Gonzaga as UVU was unable to cut the lead back to single digits. The Bulldogs successfully chased the Wolverines off the 3-point line in the second half and held them to just 3-of-13 shooting from behind the arc, including a triple by Toolson to cut the final deficit back to 23 in the final minute.

Defensively, UVU had a solid first-half showing as Gonzaga earned just two free throws in the first half. The Wolverines staked their claim to hustle stats on the night with six fast break points to the Bulldogs’ two, and just 11 turnovers to 16 for the home team.

The glaring discrepancy UVU faced on the stat sheet came in the rebounding column. Ultimately, Gonzaga’s size was too much for UVU and the Bulldogs beat out the Wolverines 51-31 on the glass. Killian Tillie led Gonzaga with nine rebounds on the night.

UVU will return to Orem to host the Idaho State Bengals in the season’s home open Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. MT.

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