Men’s basketball: UVU overcomes massive halftime deficit, downs Denver

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Photo by Brigham Berthold

DENVER—After trailing by 21 at the half, the Utah Valley University men’s basketball team stormed back in the second half and defeated Denver 88-85 Wednesday. Kenneth Ogbe and Jordan Poydras led UVU with 28 and 23 points, respectively.

“I just wish all of our students and fans could have seen this,” said head coach Mark Pope in a statement to “We could not have played worse and could not have been more disoriented in that first half. I didn’t have to say much at halftime. Our guys rallied each other like good teams do and they did something amazing.”

UD used a 14-0 run in the first half to take a commanding 29-15 lead.

The comeback began for UVU (3-1) inside the final minute of the first half as Denver held a 54-27 lead with 51 seconds remaining after a layup by UD’s Abiol Akintola. UVU scored six points to close out the half as Hayden Schenck knocked down one of two free throws and Poydras put in a layup then knocked down a 3-pointer with just three ticks on the clock.

Through the first seven minutes of the second half, UVU slowly chipped away at the UD lead, but a Duke Douglas dunk maintained the Pioneers’ 67-50 lead with 12:48 to play. On UVU’s next possession, a layup by Isaac Neilson from an offensive rebound sparked a 16-2 run that was capped by a 3-pointer by Ogbe.

With 3:58 remaining, Poydras hit a 3-pionter and gave UVU a 76-75 lead, its first lead since three minutes into the game at 8-5.

Trailing 78-76, Zach Nelson knotted the game at 78 with a pair of free throws, then gave the Wolverines the lead the rest of the way with a layup with 2:16 to play. Nelson finished with 18 points on the night.

UVU continues its road trip with a short drive to neighboring BYU in Provo on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT at the Marriott Center.