OREM — When the UVU men’s basketball team found themselves trailing by 20 points at the under eight minute media timeout with 7:41 left to play in the first half of the Western Athletic Conference matchup against UMKC, the Wolverines didn’t panic. Out of the timeout, the Wolverines used a 22-8 run to finish the half and then outscored the Kangaroos 47-32 in the second half on their way to a 79-70 victory on Saturday night in the UCCU Center.
“Really proud of our guys,” UVU head coach Mark Pope said. “Every reason in the world to feel like it’s just not our night coming off a really emotional game. Trey is hurt, Bastien can’t barely play, limited roster. These could have felt like we’ve put together a semi-respectable season. But with 10 minutes left, they said uh-uh, we’re gonna go.”
The win coupled with a loss by Seattle University puts UVU in a tie for the 4-seed at the WAC Tournament in March. The Wolverines improved to 12-15 overall, 6-6 in the WAC.
Andrew Bastien got the rally going in the first half as he hit two free throws after getting an offensive rebound. Jaden Jackson, who finished with 15 points, converted an and-1 situation and Ivory Young hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 12. After layups by Young and Dayon Goodman cut the deficit to 10, UMKC was forced to take a timeout to slow the game down.
It was back and forth the rest of the first half and Konner Frey ended the half by making two free throws to put the halftime deficit at six at 38-32.
“We closed the half on a 22-8 run,” Frey said. “Coach was telling us that our team it’s actually very simple. We are either feeling right or the ball is sticky and we’re feeling wrong. He always talks about 100 percent versus 99 percent. He says when we’re 99 percent we get beat by 30 every time. But when we are 100 percent and putting all the effort, moving the ball that’s when we can beat really good teams.”
The second half started the way the first half ended with each team going back and forth. With 12:02 left to play, Lavell Boyd hit a 3-pointer to give UMKC a 55-49 lead. But the Kangaroos went scoreless for the next three minutes and UVU was able to tie the game up at 55 on a layup by Jaden Jackson with 9:19 to play. A layup by Goodman, who finished with a career-high 17 points, with 7:06 remaining gave UVU a 60-58 lead that they never relinquished. UVU went on a 9-1 run over the next three and a half minutes to push the lead to 10 at 69-59 with 3:53 to play.
“At halftime, coach was telling us that we weren’t giving it our all,” Goodman said. “And so the second half we just got together. It was really senior leadership that really brought us back into the game.”
UMKC got within six at 76-70 with 41 seconds remaining but Jaden Jackson and Marcel Davis knocked down 3-of-4 free throws to seal the victory.
Davis finished with 18 points, six assists, and six rebounds. Konner Frey picked up his fourth double double of the year with 18 points and 12 rebounds, seven on the offensive end. A key stat in the game was that the Wolverines only turned the ball over seven times compared to 16 for UMKC.
UVU will travel to Seattle for a Saturday night matchup with the Redhawks to determine who will be the No. 4 seed at the WAC Tournament beginning on March 9 in Las Vegas. The Redhawks defeated the Wolverines back on January 28, 73-62 and Head Coach Mark Pope knows that the matchup is not one that the Wolverines like.
“I think it’s probably our worst matchup in this league,” Pope said. “The things they do are really hard for us. Their 3-2 zone with their size is hard for us. It’s a huge challenge. We were just stuck in molasses and we couldn’t get any pace to the game so we have a lot of work to do.”
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