Weary of the road, Wolverines return home

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The perfect 2-0 beginning to the season will seem like a distant memory when Utah Valley finally plays its third home game of the season Dec. 7 against St. Katherine.

Beginning a season-high five-game road slate with losses at perennial national powers Oklahoma State and Oregon, the Wolverines were unable to come up with any wins during the long stint away from Orem, concluding the stretch with a three-point loss to the University of South Dakota.

Following both of the defeats to the nationally ranked Cowboys and Ducks, UVU dropped its next three contests by a combined 12 points.

“We played our hearts out. I couldn’t say enough good things about the team right now with the way they came into this game and how hard they played,” head coach Dick Hunsaker said after the loss to University of South Dakota. “We had a couple of times down the stretch that we didn’t finish and a couple of untimely turnovers, but we have character and fight and the kids will keep getting better and improving.”

Hunsaker and the team were obviously frustrated. Their inability to pick up a win showed their frustration, as evidenced in a postgame interview between the coach and long-time UVU TV play-by-play man Jim McCulloch.

As McCulloch asked about how the losing streak was affecting the team, Hunsaker questioned the intention of the inquiry, asking if it was meant to start something.

Hosting NAIA St. Katherine (1-4) of the California Community College Athletic Association could be just the remedy the team and its coach need.

The opportunity to snap the skid versus the Fightin’ Firebirds is the first of six consecutive games within the state of Utah for the Wolverines. UVU welcomes Weber State to the UCCU Center Dec. 11 before visiting the always-raucous Smith Spectrum in Logan Dec. 14 for a meeting with Utah State. Each contest is scheduled to tipoff at 7:05 p.m. MST.

Through seven games, freshman Zach Nelson leads the team in scoring at 11.9 points per game. Nelson’s 5.9 rebounds per game are second on the team to senior Ben Aird’s 7.0 average on the glass. Senior point guard Holton Hunsaker continues to facilitate, and his 4.3 assists per game have helped the Wolverines garner the second-best team average in the category among WAC schools.

UVU is shooting 73.6 percent from the free throw line, which is currently the best mark in the conference. The Wolverines get to the charity stripe just over 18 times each game.

However, the team’s 40.8 field-goal percentage is worst in the league, and UVU is allowing opponents to shoot 45.5 percent from the floor.

The six games in Utah from Dec. 7-Dec. 28 will round out the Wolverines non-conference schedule and the portion of the schedule played in 2013.