Marcel Davis scored a team-high 22 points to lead the Utah Valley University men's basketball team in an 86-79 setback to Grand Canyon on Senior Day at the UCCU Center on Saturday afternoon.
Utah Valley wraps up regular season play with a 12-17 overall record and a 6-8 mark in WAC play. The Wolverines have locked in the No. 4 seed at next week's WAC Tournament in Las Vegas. The win pushes Grand Canyon's record to 25-6 overall and 11-3 in league play. The Antelopes are not eligible to compete in the WAC Tournament until the 2017-18 season.
"This was a hard game for us," Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope said. "Our guys played really hard and left it all out on the floor. We had some foul issues and didn't shoot the ball particularly well. Our guys played hard like they always do. I'm really proud of them. We'll regroup and come back to practice on Monday and our guys will be hungry for a win at the WAC Tournament on Thursday."
A 3-pointer from Carr gave the Wolverines a 25-24 lead with 7:35 to play in the first half. GCU countered with a 9-2 run to take back the lead, 33-27, with less than five minutes to go to play in the first period. The two teams went back-and-forth until UVU scored the final three points of the half to trail by just two points, 45-43, at the break.
Grand Canyon opened the second period with a 10-3 run to jump out to a 55-46 advantage with 16 minutes to play. UVU went on an 8-0 run of its own to cut the GCU lead to just two points, 60-58, with 11 minutes remaining. GCU went back up by 10 points at the 6:54 mark before UVU rallied to cut the GCU lead to just two points, 76-64, with three minutes to play. The Wolverines couldn't get any closer as GCU held on to take the 86-79 win.
Davis recorded his 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including a 2-of-5 mark from long range. He also knocked down 6-of-8 free throws and tallied five steals, four assists and two rebounds in 31 minutes of play.
Alex Carr was also in double figures with 10 points, all of which he scored in the first half. The senior guard hit 4-of-5 shots from the field, including a 2-of-3 clip from beyond the arc. Carr also had one rebound and a steal.
Joshua Braun led Grand Canyon with a game-high 30 points. DeWayne Russell and Keonta Vernon were also in double figures with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Utah Valley shot 40 percent (26-of-65) from the field compared to Grand Canyon's 40.3 percent (25-of-62) percent mark. GCU shot a season-high 43 free throws, connecting on 31 (72.1 percent). UVU knocked down 19 of just 25 attempts (76.0 percent) at the free-throw line. The Wolverines forced GCU into 15 turnovers while committing only nine.
"This senior group is really special," Pope said. "These seniors have given us everything they have day in and day out. That is a very high standard that they have set for our program. That's what this senior class has done as well as putting together a very respectable season for us. I still think we have a couple of more wins in us. I couldn't be more proud of these guys. I'm really grateful for the opportunity I have had to coach them."
Utah Valley now preps for the WAC Tournament next week at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Wolverines will play either UMKC or UTRGV on Thursday at 2 p.m. PT.
Jason Erickson works in the communications office at the Utah Valley University athletic department. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.