OREM An NCAA Division I team facing an NAIA opponent in basketball usually is a cakewalk for most teams.
Despite a tight first half, it turned out that way for Utah Valley State (9-13) as it beat Johnson and Wales (Colo.) 81-58 Saturday afternoon.
"They've been here before and were comfortable," said UVSC coach Dick Hunsaker of Johnson and Wales' strong start. "This was our fourth or fifth year of playing them and we'll continue the series."
Hunsaker had high praise for his opposition that was shorthanded coming in.
"They left three players home, rallied together, and played with a lot of emotion and energy," Hunsaker said.
UVSC had four players in double-figures, with Richard Troyer leading the way with a game-high 17 points.
Ryan Toolson scored 16, and Jordan Brady and Josh Olsen had 15 and 10 points, respectively.
"They hit their shots," Troyer said. "... They did a good job in the first half."
Johnson and Wales (5-15) managed to tie the game at 41 on its first possession of the second half after M.J. Crespin's 3-pointer. But the Wolverines scored six straight points to start an 18-3 run that finished off the Wildcats.
The Wildcats did hang in the game even after UVSC took a nine-point lead in the first half. Johnson and
Wales just kept chipping away and got within one point before the Wolverines held on for a 41-38 lead at halftime.
"He (Hunsaker) got on us at halftime," Troyer said.
"We allowed 38 points at halftime and he didn't like that at all."
UVSC cracked down defensively by limiting the Wildcats to 19 percent in the second half.
"We didn't play well enough defensively," Hunsaker said. "I thought we worked hard on the offensive end and did some good things."