Photo by Brigham Berthold
The Utah Valley University men’s basketball team won its second straight game at home Saturday night, 86-52 over Benedictine University at Mesa. It was a smooth wire-to-wire victory that was never in much question. UVU head coach Mark Pope took advantage of the opportunity to rest his guys, as no Wolverine played more than 21 minutes in the game. The UVU bench nearly matched the starters in scoring, 40-46.
“It was super valuable for us to have an opportunity to get everybody on the roster double digit minutes,” said Pope. “There’s going to come moments in the season where all those guys are going to come in and make game-winning plays for us and so this was a good night for us.”
UVU immediately got off to a 10-0 run, forcing turnovers on three of the Redhawks first four possessions. Jorge Cano finally broke the seal on the Benedictine basket with a layup three minutes in. Turnovers were a theme throughout the night for the Redhawks; they finished with 27 resulting in 31 UVU points. The free throw line also aided the Wolverines as they seemed to set up camp there for stretches, shooting 21-of-34 on free throws.
“Part of it was the size advantage and part of it was just that we were playing so aggressively,” said Pope. “A lot of credit to Benedictine because they played really hard but it’s a little bit of a mismatch.”
The Wolverines went through a scoring draught in the first half, going a span of nearly five minutes between made field goals. During that time Benedictine sapped the deficit down to six at 27-21 before a 3-point shot by Hayden Schenk broke the dry spell. That was the closest the Redhawks would get as UVU outscored them 16-11 in the remainder of the half for the 43-32 halftime score.
“We came out strong,” said forward Isaac Neilson. “Things kind of slowed down just trying to figure out the new rotations and then in the second half we came out strong again and our guys kept with the momentum of the game and we performed pretty well.”
17 minutes of game time was long enough for Neilson to record his second straight double-double; he finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal. Kenneth Ogbe led the Wolverines’ balanced scoring with 13 points. UVU had 11 players score at least five points. Joining Ogbe and Neilson in double digits was Jordan Poydras, who netted 10 points in addition to tallying six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
UVU will take to the road for its next game, taking on the University of Denver Nov. 23. The Wolverines will be looking to avenge last season’s 75-62 defeat in Denver. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT.
I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, but I’ve always had an intense love of sports. I’m studying journalism in an attempt to turn my love into a career. I’m a huge Utah Jazz, Tennessee Titans, and San Jose Sharks fan. If it’s a sport, I’ll watch it.