Holton Hunsaker scored a season-high 29 points as Utah Valley University kept a hold on first place in the WAC with a 79-68 win at Grand Canyon University. The Wolverine win came in front of a sold out crowd at GCU Arena.
Hunsaker scored 19 of his points in the second half including 11 straight for the Wolverines (14-8, 8-1) down the stretch. Utah Valley used a late 8-0 run after the Antelopes (11-11, 6-3) tied the game at 54-54.
“It was a great team effort in absolutely one of the best college basketball atmospheres we’ve played in,” UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. “Every guy was electric and every guy came out to compete. It was a real credit to our kids tonight.”
After Hunsaker scored to give Utah Valley a 50-39 lead, the ‘Lopes went on a 15-4 run, coming all the way back to tie the game at 54-54 on a Jeremy Adams jumper.
The Wolverines responded, scoring eight straight points started by a Bruneel 3-pointer before the junior forward drew a charge on the other end. Zach Nelson made a layup to give Utah Valley a 59-54 lead. Hunsaker then scored the next 11 Utah Valley points, starting with a layup and free throw to convert a 3-point play and cap an 8-0 run.
Hunsaker finished 8-for-14 from the floor, 4-for-7 from the 3-point line and 9-for-9 from the free-throw line and also had four assists. Utah Valley shot 27-for-29 from the line for the game.
Ben Aird and Enos each scored 13 for the Wolverines with Mitch Bruneel adding 11. Brenden Evans came off the bench and grabbed a season-high eight rebounds.
Killian Larson led Grand Canyon with 24 points with Jerome Garrison scoring 19 and Daniel Alexander 15. The ‘Lopes converted 18-of-22 from the free-throw line with Garrison hitting all eight of his attempts and Larson going 8-for-10.
The Wolverines shot an even 50 percent (22-of-44) with Grand Canyon hitting 44 percent (22-of-50). UVU out-rebounded GCU, 29-25.
Early on, Grand Canyon took a 15-7 on a jumper by Alexander before the Wolverines used runs of 11-2 and 10-0 to take an 11-point lead in the first half.
Enos gave UVU a lead, 18-17, capping the first run with a 3-pointer at the 7:22 mark. After Larson made a pair from the foul line, Enos started the 10-point spurt with another three, his seventh make in his last eight attempts stretching over three games. Hunsaker connected on his second 3-point field goal of the half, Aird hit a jumper and Enos made two free throws to give UVU a 28-19 advantage.
Overall, Utah Valley went on a 25-6 run and held Grand Canyon without a field goal for nearly eight minutes near the end of the half. The Wolverines led 32-23 at the break behind 10 points each from Enos and Hunsaker.
Enos has made eight of his last nine 3-point attempts over the last three games, hitting 3-for-4 on the night in his return to his home state. Utah Valley's win at Grand Canyon is just the fourth loss the 'Lopes have suffered over their three seasons in GCU Arena.
Utah Valley is off until next Thursday when the Wolverines host Seattle U on Thursday, Feb. 13.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.