Utah Valley University hosted in-state rivals Utah State in a highly anticipated match on Saturday night at the UCCU Center. In the seven different times that the Wolverines have met with USU, Utah Valley has never seen a win. That includes Saturdays match as they fell to the Aggies 63-69.
“We didn’t play well enough to win, you can give Utah State credit for that,” said Utah Valley head coach Dick Hunsaker. “They out played us, out competed us and they walked out here with another win.”
Utah Valley broke out early in the first half looking like a team who desperately wanted to change the winless streak with USU. Holton Hunsaker fired two quick buckets and went to the line. Alfonzo Hubbard had 13 points halfway through the first half helping the Wolverines stay in the lead.
“I thought we all started strong in the beginning of the game,” Hubbard said. “It was really flowing for me.”
The exception to Hubbard’s statement was center Ben Aird. Aird had 18 minutes in the second half, however he only added two rebounds and was 0-2 in the field.
Utah State sealed the lead ending the first half following a 59 percent field goal shooting, every player that the Aggies put on the court scored at least two points up to that point.
“A lot of times, with the pressure, we aren’t as clean on offense,” said UVU’s Nick Thompson. “Especially with our chemistry.”
Thompson’s statement was reflected during the second half. Despite a step-up from Aird on offense and solid aggression from Hunsaker, Utah Valley never gained back their lead.
Utah State out scored the Wolverines by a 10 percent margin, only two players for the Aggies had less than five points to end the night. The Aggies outscored Utah Valley in the paint 22-38 and 17 points were scored off of USU’s bench while the Wolverines had no points off the bench.
“We did not do a good job of the old player movement and ball movement,” said coach Hunsaker. “That was detrimental to our game force and our aggression.”
The hopes were high for Utah Valley, and rightfully so. Utah State is set to leave the WAC next season while UVU is preparing to join the WAC in July of 2013. UVU kept the game close coming within a six point deficit late in the game and showing almost seven ties throughout. If nothing else, Utah Valley showed that they could keep up with Divsion I teams in the future.
Utah Valley will prepare for their next game at home on Dec. 19 against Troy followed by another home game on Dec. 22 against North Carolina Central.
Kevin Olsen writes a sports column at Utah Valley University and can be reached at (801) 471-8895 or [email protected]