Following their first home game since Nov. 21, the Utah Valley men’s basketball team hit the road again to face Southern Utah on Saturday, Dec. 7, in Cedar City, Utah. UVU entered the game having played five of the last seven games on the road and the fatigue showed as they fell to the Thunderbirds 73-72.
SUU has also played a significant portion of their schedule on the road — Saturday’s game was only their third home game. By beating the Wolverines, SUU improved their record to 5-4.
Health and foul trouble proved to be major factors for UVU — junior guard Isaiah White was inactive with a knee injury and senior forward Emmanuel Olojakpoke was limited to just eight minutes on the floor after picking up five fouls. Head coach Mark Madsen had to make do with a thin, eight-man rotation as junior guard Brandon Averette played the entire game.
SUU jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but trailed the remainder of the game until they took the lead 71-70 with two minutes remaining in the second half. Consecutive 3-pointers by UVU put them ahead 9-4 and the Wolverines led by as many as 10 points midway through the first half.
UVU shot a whopping 56% in the first half and ended it with a 38-34 lead — while SUU shot only 34%. SUU’s comeback was fueled in part by nine successful free throws in the final six minutes of the half.
UVU’s shooting cooled off slightly in the second half and the Thunderbirds — led by senior guard Cameron Oluyitan’s 19 points — managed to keep the score close. With just under five minutes to play, a layup by senior forward/center Brandon Morley put UVU up by four — the largest lead they would see for the rest of the game.
After a tight few minutes, Averette made two clutch free throws to give the Wolverines a 72-71 lead with just 14 seconds left in the game. Averette’s heroics were quickly overshadowed as SUU junior guard John Knight III made a layup in the waning seconds of the game to clinch a victory for the Thunderbirds.
UVU finished the game shooting 47.3% from the field, but could not overcome having three players foul out — Olojakpoke, junior guard Casdon Jardine and sophomore guard Trey Woodbury. SUU took 32 trips to the charity stripe, where 26 of their 73 points came from.
Woodbury led the Wolverines in scoring with 19 and senior guard TJ Washington added 14 on 5-of-12 shooting.
The Wolverines will try to snap their losing streak next Saturday, Dec. 14, when they host the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in the UCCU Center at 7:30 p.m. MST.
Bridger Beal-Cvetko is a senior at Utah Valley University where he is studying journalism. He has been with the UVU Review since 2019, where he has covered the UVU men’s basketball team and the softball team during his time as Sports Editor. Bridger has also worked as a producer for ESPN 960 AM. Aside from sports, Bridger is an ardent cinephile, and loves reading fantasy and science fiction novels.