Tim Castaneda, Sports Writer, @xTIMBOxSLICEx
In a game that went down to the wire, Utah Valley University’s men’s basketball team escaped its close exhibition against Colorado Mesa with a narrow 70-62 win Wednesday night at the UCCU center.
UVU lead by as many by 15 in the first half, but sharp shooting from three-point range by Colorado Mesa helped the visitor climb back within three points of the Wolverines. Colorado Mesa’s Julian Vasquez dropped 24 points as he went 5-for-7 from 3-point range in leading his team to a 36 percent shooting night from beyond the arc.
UVU struggled shooting from the free-throw line in this one until the closing seconds of the game to avoid the comeback attempt by Colorado Mesa. Despite shooting only 68 percent at the line, guards Marcel Davis and Jaden Jackson each hit a key pair of free throws down the stretch for the Wolverines.
“Overall I was pleased with our effort,” said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. “I saw some growth from practice work. A lot of work ahead of us, a lot of flaws still but I saw good effort and guys trying to do things that frankly do not come natural to them but there certainly were some good moments for us.”
Davis, who transferred to UVU from Utah State, finished the game with 15 points on 5-for-11 shooting, seven rebounds and one assist. UVU forward Zach Nelson contributed 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting and added 3 rebounds in helping his team to victory.
“I thought Marcel did come in and played with some energy and played with some determination,” said Coach Hunsaker. “It really displayed that he has a great desire to win.”
Colorado Mesa cut the UVU lead to three points with four minutes remaining as center Ryan Stephan hit a 3-pointer bringing the score to 60-57. The Mavericks big man finished the game with 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including 3-for-4 from the 3-point line and added three rebounds.
However, UVU went on a 10-5 run to finish the game as they shielded themselves from the hot shooting by the Mavericks.
The Wolverines’ forwards dominated the Mavericks in the post to give their frontcourt an advantage in points and rebounds. As a team they outrebounded the Mavericks 36-26 and contributed 36 points in the paint compared to 14 for the opposing team.
UVU next plays its regular season opener at home against South Dakota November 14 at 7:05 p.m. MT.