Men’s basketball: UVU loses conference opener at GCU

The UVU men’s basketball team opened their Western Athletic Conference schedule Saturday with a trip to Phoenix, Arizona to take on Grand Canyon University. UVU (8-8) was able to keep it close through a see-saw first half, but GCU (10-6) blew it open in the second frame, coming away with a 82-72 victory over the Wolverines.

GCU jumped out to a 17-9 lead in the game before UVU battled back with a 13-0 run led by Kenneth Ogbe and Jordan Poydras. After the matching runs the two teams traded buckets for the last seven minutes of the half, leaving GCU with a three point halftime lead, 38-35.

The Lopes dominated much of the second half, winning the half 44-37 and leading by as many as 19 along the way. For the third straight game against UVU, GCU’s Joshua Braun topped 30 points. He finished with a game-high 31 on 10-of-20 shooting, including 7-of-13 from the 3-point line. DeWayne Russell tabbed a double-double for GCU with 21 points and 11 assists.

UVU had two players rack up double-doubles as well in the losing effort. Brandon Randolph scored 18 and came down with 10 rebounds, while Isaac Neilson totaled 14 points and 16 boards. Joining Randolph and Neilson in double figures were Ogbe and Conner Toolson with 20 and 11, respectively.

Despite the loss, UVU won the rebounding battle 44-42, a rarity for the undersized Wolverines. The largest discrepancy of the game was in the area of ball control. UVU ended their possessions with a turnover twice as often as GCU, with a final turnover count of 14-7. That translated on the scoreboard as the Lopes scored 15 points off of the Wolverine turnovers.

UVU will return to the UCCU Center Thursday to take on Chicago State University in seek of their first conference win of the season. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST.

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