Photo courtesy of the WAC
LAS VEGAS — In a marathon quadruple overtime game, California State University – Bakersfield beat UVU 81-80 in Orleans Arena Friday night.
UVU (15-16, 6-8) lost a heartbreaker in what was the first game in WAC Tournament history to advance to four overtime periods. Between the two teams, five players fouled out, 119 rebounds were snagged, 78 free throws were shot and there were 18 lead changes in the semifinal game.
“I thought it was an epic battle between two teams that were willing to put aside their agendas and give it everything they had,” UVU head coach Mark Pope said.
Late in the second half, CSUB (22-8, 12-2) went over eight minutes without a field goal. A drought that did not cost Bakersfield the game. Neither team will want to remember the contest for how they shot the ball as UVU shot a 32 percent clip and the Runners 29 percent.
“The offense obviously was not good tonight,” Bakersfield head coach Rod Barnes said. “But it was good enough to give us a one-point victory.”
The Wolverines held an eight-point lead when Brandon Randolph drove coast-to-coast and laid the ball in with 2:40 left in regulation. It didn’t last as CSUB’s forward Jaylin Airington scored 11 consecutive points for his team, helping to force overtime.
In the first overtime, UVU had the ball with 22 seconds on the clock. Jordan Poydras missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Hayden Schenck caught the ball and missed a jumper to send the game to a second overtime period.
Ivory Young drained a trey to give the Wolverines a three-point advantage with 1:14 left in the period. Four free throws from Dedrick Basile, who finished the night with 18 points, gave Bakersfield the chance to win the game as the clock winded down, but Airington missed the game-winning shot and to triple overtime the game went.
Conner Toolson, UVU’s leading scorer on the season, didn’t score his first points of the night until the first overtime. He sunk a 3-pointer to begin the third overtime period, but missed free throws and turnovers cost the Wolverines a chance to close the game out. Basile missed a jumper at the end of the third overtime and forced the fourth extra period.
Schenck fouled out early in the fourth overtime and both teams began to show fatigue on defense. Ivory Young drove to the basket with a chance to win the game for UVU in the closing seconds but couldn’t get the shot to fall.
“The last shot, they trusted me with it,” senior Ivory Young said. “I might have been able to make a better play to save it but at the end of the day they believed in me and I just went out and tried to make a play.”
Isaac Neilson was a rebounding machine in first half, grabbing 11 boards. UVU’s 68 total rebounds on the night is also a WAC Tournament record. Neilson fouled out before the end of regulation after securing 16 total boards, seven of them coming on the offensive end. His absence in the final 25-plus minutes of the game limited the Wolverines ability to match up, forcing Andrew Bastien to play more minutes than expected.
“Isaac had some real energy for us tonight,” Pope said. “He was flying around. He was really good defensively, he was great on the glass and he was having a huge impact on the game, so that hurt us a lot.”
The 3-ball, which so often is the barometer of UVU’s success this season, did not fall on several opportunities at the end of each period. The Wolverines shot 9-of-32 on the game.
Ty Bianucci is a life-long fan of the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and Golden State Warriors who started on the sports beat for The Review, but now contributes investigative stories. He, along with two of his colleagues, were awarded the Sunshine Award in 2018 by the Society of Professional Journalists.