After being named to the Academic All-America team earlier in the day, Utah Valley University senior Holton Hunsaker scored 18 points and tied a career high with nine assists, leading UVU to a 79-70 win at Chicago State on Thursday.
The win keeps the Wolverines (15-9, 10-2) on top in the WAC and improves UVU’s road record in conference to 6-1. Zach Nelson scored 16 points, hitting 6-of-7 from the floor, with Mitch Bruneel adding 15 points — on 5-for-7 shooting — on a night the Wolverines finished 27-for-53 from the field.
"This was a tough game. Chicago State had a lot of energy and threw a lot of different looks at us," UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. "We knew it was going to be a difficult ball game. They are always tough for us. I was very pleased with the poise and composure that we held throughout the game."
The teams traded runs in the first half before going into the halftime with just one point separating the teams. UVU used a 10-0 run to take a 20-11 lead, the largest of the half for either team.
Following that run, Utah Valley did not trail the rest of the way, staving off several Chicago State surges. The Cougars closed to within a point later in the half before a 9-2 run, with all nine points coming from three, put Utah Valley ahead 36-28. The Cougars closed the half with seven straight to cut the Wolverines halftime lead to 36-35.
At halftime Chicago State held a 19-15 edge in rebounding, but Utah Valley controlled the boards in the second half, outrebounding the Cougars, 21-8, after the break. Ben Aird finished with nine boards overall. UVU also had seven offensive rebounds following the break, outscoring the Cougars 13-0 in second chance points in the second half.
After Quinton Pippen tied it early in the second with a 3-pointer, Enos answered with a three, and Nelson, after corralling a pair of offensive rebounds, scored and was fouled and gave UVU a 44-38 lead with the free throw.
Hunsaker hit a three to give Utah Valley a 52-42 lead with 14:32 to go, but Pippen answered right back just 13 seconds later to again make it a seven point game. Layups from Bruneel and Garrity extended the Wolverine lead to 11, 56-45, with 12:06 left.
The lead was 11, 61-50, midway through the half when the Cougars came back with five quick points to make it a six point game. CSU later closed within three, 67-64, on a bucket by Eddie Denard with 4:50 to go. In the end though, Hunsaker helped Utah Valley seal the game, hitting 6-for-6 from the line during a decisive 8-2 spurt that made it 75-66 with 1:04 to go.
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Enos finished with 11 points, and Aird had eight in addition to his nine rebounds. Hunsaker was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line. Chicago State’s Clarke Rosenberg led all scorers with 20 on the night
The Wolverines now head to Kansas City for their final regular season road contest. Tip for Saturday’s game from Municipal Auditorium is 6 p.m. MT
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.