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UVU basketball: Wolverines trek to North Dakota State for season's final road game

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Feb. 25 2013 3:48 p.m. MST

UVU's Nick Thompson (left) and Holton Hunsaker (right) play solid defense. Both helped limit UTPA to just 49 points Saturday night, tying a season-low in points allowed for the Wolverines.

Shane Truskolaski, UVU Athletics

Enlarge photo»

OREM, Utah — Utah Valley University will look to bounce back from a tough Great West Conference loss last weekend when it pays visit to non-league foe North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D., Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT at NDSU's Bison Sports Arena.

UVU (13-15, 2-5 GWC) got a game-high 26 points from guard Holton Hunsaker and 19 more from center Ben Aird, but fell to Houston Baptist on Saturday night in the Space City.

In a tight ballgame throughout, the Wolverines and Huskies were tied at 46-46 with 14:43 to go, but a 12-3 HBU run midway through the first half proved the difference as the home team picked up its seventh consecutive victory.

Hunsaker and Aird were the only UVU players in double-digit scoring, but forward Zach Jones — averaging 10.0 points per game over his last four contests — and guard Jason Johnson chipped in eight points apiece. Aird, the GWC's leading rebounder at 9.0 per game, pulled down a game-high 13 boards.

Behind Aird's team-leading 14.2 ppg comes Hunsaker with 13.1 ppg. Forward Nick Thompson is the only other active Wolverine to average double figures at 10.0 points per contest and is the second leading rebounder at 7.7 rpg. Thompson also leads the GWC with a 4.2 assists per game average.

Similarly, NDSU (20-8, 11-4 Summit) will also enter Tuesday's contest off a loss. Facing Akron — winners of 18 straight — in a non-conference, Ramada Worldwide BrackBuster game, the Bison fell 68-53 despite a late push in the second half.

Center Marshall Bjorklund, who leads the active NDSU roster with 11.4 ppg, was limited to just four points on 1-for-6 shooting. The poor night from the field dropped Bjorklund's shooting average to 67 percent — good for the second highest percentage in the country.

Guard Lawrence Alexander was the top Bison scorer against the Zips, scoring 19 points, while guard Mike Felt dropped in 15.

"NDSU is an outstanding team that is having a terrific season," UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. "They have great balance with their inside-outside attack. We are well aware of the quality of the opponent we are about to face and of the challenges they present."

Based on the latest NCAA statistical information, the Bison rank eighth in Division I in scoring defense (55.3 ppg) and tenth in turnovers per game (10.7).

Bjorklund's 6.1 rpg are best on the team but are followed closely by 5.9 from forward TrayVonn Wright. Wright is also the Bison's third leading scorer at 9.6 ppg.

NDSU has been without the services of Taylor Braun, a first team all-Summit preseason pick and 15.6 ppg scorer, for its last ten games due to injury.

The Wolverines and Bison last met in November of 2009, the season opener for both teams. Utah Valley prevailed in Orem, 80-72.

A Saturday, March 2, meeting with Chicago State stands as UVU's final conference game of the 2012-13 season. That game begins at 7:05 p.m. at the UCCU Center. The Wolverines will then close the regular season the following Saturday when they host CSU Bakersfield.

Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.

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