Tim Castaneda, Sports
In a back and forth game dominated by defense, visiting Utah State University walked away from the UCCU center with a hard-earned 50-47 victory over UVU men’s basketball behind key plays from guard Jalen Moore down the stretch.
With both teams exchanging baskets toward the end of the game, Moore scored eight of his 14 points during the last five minutes of the game, including a huge two-point jumper to put his team ahead at 47-45 with 24 seconds remaining. He finished the night shooting 2-for-9 with seven rebounds and one steal.
“Congratulations to Utah State,” said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. “They made a play or two more down the stretch than we did. I thought we battled, competed and really stayed within ourselves throughout the game. Hopefully it’s a game that we can reflect back on later in the year that will help improve us as a team.”
UVU battled valiantly to maintain its six point halftime lead but missed a couple scoring opportunities due to Utah State’s strong defensive presence in the closing seconds. The Aggies tallied seven blocks in the second half to end the game with 10 total.
UVU’s lead diminished as Utah State took its first lead off a layup inside by Chris Smith that put the Aggies ahead with just over four minutes to play. However, the Wolverines continued to show fight as they tried to regain the lead.
UVU guard Marcel Davis, focused on keeping his team in the game, dribbled the length of the court on a drive to the basket which resulted in a successful trip to the free throw line to give UVU a one point lead with nearly two and a half minutes remaining. Davis, the former Aggie, ended a tough night against his former team with five points on 0-for-6 shooting, but hit five of his six free throws and had three assists.
On a tough shooting night with both teams hitting just 29 percent of their shots, missed opportunities on the offensive end of the court proved too costly for UVU in the end.
Davis, who had hit five consecutive free throws in the game, missed his first foul shot of the night with a chance to put his team up by one in the closing seconds, after which Moore capitalized on the other end of the court by hitting one of two free throws for the Aggies’ go-ahead point.
On the ensuing UVU possession the Aggies’ defense forced a turnover followed by a frustration foul from Davis, who fouled out with eight seconds to go. Utah State capitalized off UVU’s mistakes, turning in 10 points off turnovers in the game.
The Aggies sealed their fate as Smith received the long pass down court with no resistance for the easy dunk, stretching the lead to three points with one second remaining. Smith finished the night second in scoring behind Moore with 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting, three assists, a steal and a block.
Down 50-47 in the last second of the game, UVU forward Zach Nelson threw a desperation pass down court to Mitch Bruneel, but Bruneel couldn’t get the long three-point attempt off as time expired.
Despite great efforts from Donte Williams, who led all Wolverines in points with 14, and Nelson, who scored 12 points to go along with five rebounds, the team loses its sixth straight contest to fall to 3-6 on the season.
Utah State remains undefeated in play against UVU with an all-time record of 10-0 in the matchup.
The Wolverines next head north looking to end their six-game skid in their game versus another in-state foe in Weber State University on the road next Saturday, December 20 at 7 p.m. MT.