Wolverines beat Vaqueros on the road in hard fought win

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UVU took a trip to Texas to play UTRGV on Saturday, Feb. 16, looking to get a win after falling to New Mexico state on Valentine’s Day.

The Wolverines started off a little rusty, only leading in the first half 4-0 and 4-2 early on. That would be their only lead of the half. The Vaqueros gave the Wolverines a run for their money, putting UVU down 10 at one point. Somehow, UVU kept their game alive and ended the half down only three, despite a rather poor shooting performance.

“We did a great job of taking care of the ball against the second-best team in the country in forcing turnovers and causing steals,” said UVU head coach Mark Pope. “We weren’t great to start this game and this is a huge win for us.”

A strong performance from senior guard Ben Nakwaasah gave the Wolverines the 76-64 win.  Nakwaasah contributed 10 points, nine of those coming from behind the arc, along with three rebounds and three assists.  

A continued effort from the UVU bench accounted for 30 bench points among four players including junior guard TJ Washington, junior guard Hayden Schenck, freshman forward Wyatt Lowell and sophomore center Richard Harward.

UVU came out of half time eager to score and quickly did, with two layups by junior center Baylee Steele and junior guard Jake Toolson to give the Wolverines the lead 32-31. The fight would start from there as each team battled back and forth with seven lead changes in the second half and four different leads for the Wolverines.

The Wolverines started pulling away with just over three minutes left of play, when Nakwaasah hit a big three to give UVU a nine-point lead, 69-60. A pair of free throws from Toolson gave the Wolverines that same lead of nine with a minute left. The largest lead of the game for UVU came when Nakwaasah hit another dagger from deep with 19 seconds left, giving UVU the 13-point advantage.

“This was a huge challenge for us on the road and I couldn’t be more proud of my guys,” Pope said.

The Wolverines will come home for a two-game stint to play Chicago State on Feb 21 and UMKC on the 23.  

Photo courtesy of: Johnny Morris