CHICAGO — Utah Valley University opens its final Great West Conference Basketball Tournament on Thursday in a quarterfinal match against Houston Baptist University. The game tips at 5 p.m. CT/4 p.m. MT from the Jones Convocation Center in Chicago, Illinois.
The Wolverines (14-17) and Huskies (12-16) are tied for third along with host Chicago State following the Great West regular season. Following the tiebreaker scenarios, UVU is the fifth seed, HBU is fourth and CSU is third.
It’s the first time the two teams have faced off in the conference tournament, now in its fourth and final season. Next year, Utah Valley is headed for the WAC and Houston Baptist to the Southland Conference.
"HBU has been playing really well together and coach Ron Cottrell should receive some consideration for Coach of the Year," UVU coach Dick Hunsaker said. "They have played a lot of good basketball in the latter part of the season. It's imperative that we are focused and very fundamental against their style."
Utah Valley and Houston Baptist split the regular season series with both teams holding serve at home. The Wolverines scored an 83-62 win on Feb. 12 in Orem with the Huskies picking up a 73-63 win on Feb. 23 in Houston.
In the UVU win, the Wolverines shot 60.4 percent from the floor and got a career-high 24 points from Alfonzo Hubbard in his last game prior to a season-ending injury. Ben Aird scored 17 and Holton Hunsaker had 14.
In the Huskies’ win, Caleb Crayton scored 23 to help offset a 26-point effort from Hunsaker. Aird finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds as he and Hunsaker combined for 45 of the team’s 63 points.
HBU was hotter than any Great West team down the stretch, running off eight wins in a row at one point. The Huskies are led by Art Bernardi's 14.5 points per game.
Thursday’s winner advances to Friday’s semifinal match against conference champion NJIT at 5 p.m. CT. Chicago State will face No. 2 seed Texas-Pan American in Friday’s other semifinal contest.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company