Utah Valley’s men’s basketball team showed flashes of great play against the BYU Cougars on Saturday, Nov. 28, but ultimately fell short of knocking off their crosstown rivals. Although they lost by a final score of 82-60, the Wolverines managed to keep the contest competitive — if not actually in reach — for most of the game.
“I was really proud of our guys and how they battled at times,” said head coach Mark Madsen. “We had five to 10 minute spurts where we played really well on both sides of the ball. Consistency, that needs to be improved upon.”
The Wolverines jumped out to a hot start at the Marriott Center on Saturday night and led by 10 points midway through the first half. Junior guard Trey Woodbury was nearly unstoppable and scored 15 of UVU’s 24 points in the first half. Woodbury was 3-for-3 from behind the arc in the first half and 6-for-8 from the field.
Redshirt sophomore Fardaws Aimaq didn’t have the same dominant scoring performance as he did in Thursday’s game against Adams State, but the 6’ 11” center held his own in the paint against BYU’s frontcourt and grabbed five rebounds in the first half.
As quickly as UVU’s early lead materialized, it vanished. Midway through the first half, the Cougars finally saw their shots drop and put the clamps down on UVU’s offense. Woodbury was the only Wolverine with more than four points in the half and BYU forced the ball out of the hands of UVU’s playmaker. The Cougars would finish the half on a 25-4 run.
“We lost shooters, we obviously knew that BYU shoots the 3-pointer really well,” Madsen said. “Give BYU credit, they knocked down 3’s. That changed the game right there.”
BYU expanded their lead early in the second but the Wolverines didn’t quit and rallied back to within 10 with just under five minutes to play. Senior guard Jamison “J.J.” Overton came alive in the second half. Overton would finish with 21 points and eight rebounds. Nine of his points came from the free throw line.
“J.J. Overton left everything on the court,” Madsen said. “J.J.’s one of the top players in the country in terms on his midrange game and getting to the free throw line.”
In the end, BYU’s size and depth proved too much for UVU and the Cougars finished the game on a 9-0 run. The Wolverines finished the game shooting under 37 percent from the field and will look to add more consistent offense going forward.
“Ultimately, we’re going to need a few more guys to step up,” said Madsen. “We’re going to need a few more guys to finish around the rim.”
After a few days off, UVU returns to action on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. MST when they take on the Westminster College Griffins. That game will be aired live on the WAC Digital Network and ESPN 960 AM.
Bridger Beal-Cvetko is a junior at Utah Valley University where he is studying journalism. He has been with The Review since 2019, where he has covered the UVU men’s basketball team and the softball team before becoming the Sports/Valley Life Editor. Bridger also covers the BYU football and basketball teams as a writing and producing intern for ESPN 960 Sports on KOVO 960 and espn960sports.com. Aside from sports, Bridger is an ardent cinephile, and writes reviews and commentary on films for his personal website.