CHICAGO — The Utah Valley University men's basketball team roared back from a 14-point second-half deficit behind 15 second-half points from Isiah Williams and 11 second-half points by Holton Hunsaker to post a 66-61 victory over Chicago State Saturday afternoon.
Williams, a Chicago native, went 0 of 10 from the first half, but went 5 of 8 from the field, including 3 of 5 from the 3-point line in the second half.
With the win, the Wolverines win their school-record 10th straight game while improving to 17-10 overall and 7-0 in Great West Conference play. With the loss, the Cougars fall to 3-22 overall and 1-6 in league play.
UVU entered the game with the nation's eighth longest winning streak.
The Wolverines trailed by 12 at the half after shooting just 24.2 percent, but answered with a 61.9-percent shooting from the field in the second half.
"Fortunately we fought through it," UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. "Everybody contributed in this game, especially in the second half."
Holton Hunsaker led the Wolverines with 16 points, while Williams finished with 15. Ben Aird chipped in with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Chicago State's Matt Samuels led all scorers with 19 points.
For the second time this year, the Wolverines came back from a halftime deficit to beat the Cougars.
Utah Valley led only twice early in the game before Chicago State began pulling away.
Hunsaker gave the Wolverines a 5-3 lead with a 3-pointer with 18:08 to play in the half, and Robinson hit a jumper to give the Wolverines the 7-5 lead two minutes later.
After Utah Valley tied the game at nine, the Cougars went on a 6-0 run to lead 15-9 with 12:13 to go.
With 7:31 left the Cougars capped a 10-0 run to lead by 12.
The Wolverines answered with a modest 6-0 run on buckets by Aird, Husanker, Zach Jones to whittle the lead to six with 4:35 left, but that was as close as the Wolverines would get the rest of the half.
Chicago State ended the half with an 8-2 run to lead by 12 at the break, 35-23.
The Wolverines shot just 24.2 percent from the field, including just 3 of 15 from behind the arc, while Chicago State shot 55.2 percent.
Samuels led the Cougars with 11 points in the half, and Jeremy Robinson, the Great West Conference's leading scorer, added nine.
Alfonzo Hubbard came off the bench and led the Wolverines with eight points in the first half.
Chicago State took its halftime lead to a game-high 14 points with a bucket to open the half before Utah Valley began cutting away at the lead.
With his team trailing by 13 with 17:16 left, Williams drilled a 3-pointer to begin a 10-0 run to cut the lead to three at 41-38 with just under 15 minutes to play.
Two minutes later, Robinson converted a three-point play and the Wolverines were within two at 43-41.
The Wolverines finally tied the score at 43-43 with 11:13 left on a lay-up by Aird.
Robinson gave the Wolverines, who were on a 17-2 run, their first lead since early in the game with a lay-up to lead 45-43.
UVU upped its lead to three, 50-47, on a bucket by Williams with 7:33 left. UVU, which went on a 24-6 run, led by as many at five at 52-47 after a long 2-pointer by Williams.
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Late in the game, the Wolverines led by as many as six points by hitting 9-of-12 foul shots in the final 1:11.
For the game, the Wolverines shot 38.9 percent from the field, while Chicago State shot 45.8 percent. The Wolverines connected on 17-of-21 foul shots, while Chicago State hit just 3-of-7.
The Wolverines return to the UCCU Center Monday night when they host Montana Tech. They will then have 10 days off before hosting Houston Baptist on Feb. 23 and Texas-Pan American Feb. 25 to close out their home slate.
Jay Hinton is a sports information assistant at Utah Valley University