UVU men’s basketball defeats Grand Canyon 68-56

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Photo Credit: Zach Burkart

With both teams sitting at four wins and one loss in conference play, the matchup between UVU and GCU’s men’s basketball teams had a lot riding on it. UVU recent game against NMSU provided their first loss in the WAC and the Wolverines returned to Orem in hopes of bouncing back. Not only would the Wolverines be looking for their fifth conference win, but also to strike back at a GSU team that has beaten them six straight times.

Scoring was low at the start of the game with very physical defense being played at both sides. GCU lead five to zero at the first stoppage of play, already with Akolda Manyang in foul trouble. The Wolverine’s initial struggle was rebounding — especially in giving the Antelopes many second chance points on the offensive end. Almost ten minutes into the half, UVU was shooting a shockingly low eight percent from the court and trailing 14 to two.

“You guys watched it — it was ugly.” said Coach Mark Pope of UVU.

Suddenly UVU got on a roll and kept running. A 12 to two run tied the game at 16 and Wolverine’s had figured things out. Costly offensive fouls by GCU allowed UVU to quickly climb back, led by two huge three-pointers from the corner by Jerrelle DeBerry and a great offensive effort by Connor Toolson (who would finish the half with ten points). The real climax of the half was a huge four point play by Kenneth Ogbe as he was fouled hard in the corner, still sinking the three. In an incredible fashion, the Wolverines run had them leading 30-24 at halftime.

UVU’s Manyang started the second half by swatting one of GCU’s shots into the stand and put up the teams first four points. GCU fought back, and things got really tight as the Antelopes tied the game at 40 with 13 minutes remaining. An aggressive 13 to four run for UVU gave the team a semi-comfortable 53-44 lead, but with nine minutes left it was still going to be a fight.

GCU’s effort was short-lived as nothing could stop UVU as they continued to play efficient team basketball to overcome GCU 68-56. Manyang was able to put up a team high 14 points, after not putting up any in the first half, and finished the game with a nice alley-oop slam — adding yet another great performance to his resume.

“This Akolda Manyang I’m really proud of. I’m really proud of him because the whole game was taken away from him in the first 90 seconds, and then somehow as he got into the second half he made some plays that were really really savvy,” said Pope.

After a rough 10 minute start, nothing could be done to stop the Wolverines from dominating the game once they got on a roll. The Wolverines now head on a three game road trip to face Seattle, Chicago State, and Kansas City.

“Could not be any more incredibly proud of our guys for winning the game when it was incredibly messy,” said Pope.