Photo Courtesy of: UVU Athletics
Jake Toolson’s game high 26 not enough as Wolverines fall 83-78
Utah Valley University welcomed conference foe New Mexico State University to the UCCU Center on Saturday night. It was slated as a big game on the schedule, and it showed with a sold out crowd and Utah Jazz players, Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long, in attendance sitting courtside.
UVU was without graduate transfer Connor MacDougall for a third consecutive game, meaning less depth off the bench once again. The Wolverines grabbed the opening tip-off and started the scoring from there; eventually getting out to a 12 point lead in the first half. Their hot shooting would stay course throughout the entire first half, as they shot an impressive 63% from the field.
The Wolverines led at half time, 39-33. At the half, the game was seeming all too reminiscent of the last time NMSU was here in February of last year. The Wolverines had the hot hand shooting in the first half of last year’s game, shooting 56%. Hoping for a similar result of last season, where UVU won 86-79 and ended the Aggies unbeaten conference record.
The Wolverines came out shooting just as well in the second half but could not put the Aggies away, as they would go on few scoring runs of their own throughout the second half. After many lead changes between the two, the Aggies started to pull away in the final minutes.
Clutch shooting and missed free throws by the Wolverines, as well as shooting 45.5% from the 3-point line in the second half, would help the Aggies hang on in those final minutes. As they went on to win by a final score of 83-78, snapping the Wolverines 22 game home winning streak.
“I am not discouraged, I’m really bummed. I’m just really bummed but I am not discouraged about where we’re going or what we’re trying to accomplish.” said UVU head coach Mark Pope. “I’m proud of my guys, I like this team and I really trust them, I think we have good things ahead of us.”
Junior guard Jake Toolson had a game high 26 points and shot over 70% from the field. “I believe in what we do and in my teammates. Whatever team you put up in front of us, I think we have a great chance to win no matter what.” said Toolson.
UVU will head out on a road trip where they will face the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday, January 24 and Chicago State University on Saturday, January 26. The Wolverines will hope to get back to a .500 record in conference play.