OREM A win is a win, despite protestations to the contrary that preseason play doesn't count. And luckily for Utah Valley State, they managed to get a victory in its final exhibition game by holding off Westminster in a 79-67 win Monday night.
The outcome wasn't in doubt late, but Westminster made it interesting in cutting a 14-point deficit to eight points with under a minute to play. Time was on the Wolverines' side though and they were able to run the clock out.
Ryan Toolson led UVSC with 27 points and Jordan Brady helped out by adding 20 points of his own on shooting 8-of-10 from the field. Brady also grabbed nine rebounds in leading the Wolverines on the glass.
"I don't know what that speaks for our team that Brady and Toolson had to come forward as they did," said UVSC coach Dick Hunsaker. "I think they need to have a bit more help on the court and have some more guys be accountable."
A 7-0 run in the first five minutes of the second half put UVSC up for good, as Brady made a shot after being fouled and sunk the ensuing free throw to spark his team. But it wasn't an easy win as the Griffins proved to be a strong opponent by holding a 45-42 lead before that point early in the second half.
"I definitely think that was a momentum swing for us," Brady said of his three-point play. "Ryan (Toolson) made a great pass and looked up the floor."
The Griffins managed to even the score at 36 at halftime as guard Weston Anderson nailed a three as the buzzer sounded to punctuate a comeback from a double-digit deficit at one point.
"We went through a great defensive stretch the first half that got us back in the game," Westminster coach Tommy Connor said. "It could have gotten ugly."
Before Westminster rallied, UVSC looked like they were going to run away with the game from the opening tipoff. The Wolverines held a 20-8 lead seven minutes into the game helped by shooting 6-of-8 from the field in that stretch. UVSC finally cooled off to end with a 50 percent field-goal average in the first half. The Wolverines turned the ball over 11 times nine of which from Westminster steals in the first 20 minutes.
Westminster's Danny Stoisch led all players with 13 points in the first half shooting 5-for-5 from the field. Stoisch stayed hot as he finished with 20 points and downing 7-of-8 of his shots.
WEBER STATE 96, FORT LEWIS 92 (OT): The Wildcat men needed an extra five minutes of basketball to dispatch Fort Lewis College in their final exhibition game. Dezmon Harris scored 17 points, Brody Van Brocklin added 15 and Kellen McCoy chipped in 14 for WSU.
The Skyhawks were paced by Devon Manning's 34 points and nearly beat the Wildcats by forcing 22 WSU turnovers.
WSU hosts Utah State on Saturday to open the regular season.
FORT LEWIS 58, WEBER STATE 57: At Ogden, the Weber State women dropped their final exhibition game to Fort Lewis College. Senior forward Tashina Taylor led the Wildcats with 13 points and Ahkiah Hunter added 11 but it wasn't enough to take down the Skyhawks who shot 45.2 percent from the field. The Wildcats open the season on Friday when they host Northwest Nazarene at 5:00 p.m.