Holton Hunsaker nearly pulled the Wolverines from the brink all by himself in double overtime Thursday afternoon in Great West Conference tournament action. His back-to-back three-point shots tied the contest and then gave UVU a one-point lead at 74-73 with only seconds to play.
Jason Johnson took a slight shove in the back as he dove for a loose ball that would have secured the win only to have a travel call give possession to the Huskies. Rob Lewis calmly dribbled six seconds off the clock before knocking down a three-ball to give HBU what would turn out to be the final score, 76-74.
"I have enough to worry about trying to coach the game let alone ref it," said Wolverine head coach Dick Hunsaker. "We had a chance if we made a couple of plays late, but give credit to HBU, they took a big shot and hit it."
A Nick Thompson full-court pass was tipped around until time expired and ran out the final grains of sand in the hourglass of the Wolverines' 2012-13 season.
The GWC does not have an automatic bid for post-season play, but a win would have kept UVU in contention for the conference championship and also a shot for a bid to the College Insider.com tournament. Last season the Wolverines gave Damian Lillard and Weber State all they could handle before dropping to the Wildcats, 72-69, in the opening round of the CIT.
Thompson broke out of his slump, racking up 22 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Johnson chipped in 20 points and five boards while Ben Aird tallied 19 points and seven rebounds as the trio paced UVU in the hotly contested loss.
"Nick gave us a good effort," Hunsaker said. "We all gave a good effort, Houston Baptist just took it, they wanted it and we didn't make the plays we needed to win. So you have to give them credit, but it definitely is disappointing."Comment on this story
While this puts an end to this year's campaign, coach Hunsaker is already plotting out next year's foray into the WAC.
"The WAC is a definite upgrade in talent level and competition," Hunsaker said. "We are already hitting the ground running in recruiting, we have a lot to improve on to build a program that will be able to compete."
The jump to the WAC will be a challenge for the Wolverines, but the reward will be well worth the effort with the chance to get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, a place UVU has never been.