UVU basketball: Wolverines edged by North Dakota State

By Clint Burgi

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Dec. 23 2013 11:14 p.m. MST

Despite a big night from its backcourt, Utah Valley University fell just short against North Dakota State, 74-70, on Monday night at the UCCU Center.

The Wolverines (5-7) were led by Holton Hunsaker’s game-high 22 points while Keawe Enos scored 14 and Hayes Garrity chipped in 13. Taylor Braun led the Bison (10-4) with 20 points, scoring 14 of his points on 16 free-throw attempts. Lawrence Alexander scored 19 for NDSU, the team picked to win the Summit League, on 7-for-8 shooting including 4-for-4 from the 3-point line.

Utah Valley trailed by two, 74-72, with under a minute to go when a big tip-in by Chris Kading on a Braun miss turned out to be the decisive bucket.

“We battled, we fought and we worked to compete. We just simply didn’t quite make enough plays on either end of the court when we had to and North Dakota State did,” UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said.

UVU matched a season-high with 11 makes from beyond the arc, four from Enos and three from Hunsaker, who also converted on all 11 of his attempts from the free-throw line. NDSU shot 52.9 percent from the field, while Utah Valley hit 44.7 percent overall.

Hunsaker started the game 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line, scoring 14 of the team’s first 16 points. After Mitch Bruneel knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner, UVU led 19-12 at the 12-minute mark of the first half.

The Wolverines were up 19-14 before a Keawe Enos three, UVU’s fifth of the first half, and a Bruneel bucket extended it to 24-14. North Dakota State responded though, going on a 17-2 spurt with Braun scoring 10 straight to put the Bison in front, 31-26.

With UVU down 39-30 in the waning minutes of the half, Garrity converted on a four-point play with a 3-pointer and a free throw. It was a Garrity bucket just before the first half expired that sent the Wolverines to the locker room down seven, 45-38.

The North Dakota State lead hovered between three and six for a large chunk of the second half until Enos connected on his third 3-pointer, and Garrity hit a jumper to make it a one-point game, 59-58, with 8:52 left.

The Wolverines took their first lead since the 6:08 mark of the first half when Garrity came up with a steal, and Hunsaker fed Enos for a layup on the other end for a 62-61 score. After Alexander hit another three, his fourth, Enos answered with his fourth triple as the teams seesawed back and forth.

UVU trailed 68-67 and had possession of the baskeball, but Braun came up with a big steal and layup on the other end to push the Bison lead to three with 3:18 on the clock. TrayVonn Wright followed with a jumper at the two-minute mark to extend the NDSU advantage to 72-67.

The Wolverines will play their final non-conference game of the season on Saturday, Dec. 28, against Tennessee Tech University at 7:05 p.m. MT. It’s a rematch of a Nov. 30 game in Cookeville, Tenn., a game UVU was edged by three, 74-71. Utah Valley opens its first WAC season on Jan. 4 at Bakersfield.

Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.