SANTA CLARA, Calif. – A big second half propelled Utah Valley University to an 86-83 win over Eastern Washington on Tuesday night in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Santa Clara University.
Trailing by 11 at the break, the Wolverines (3-2) got big contributions over the final 20 minutes from several players including 16 points from Jason Johnson. Johnson finished with 18 overall, while Ben Aird scored 13 of his career-high-matching 25 in the second half.
Alfonzo Hubbard scored 13 of his 16 and Antoine Hosley scored all 10 of his points after the break and UVU outscored Eastern Washington (0-4) 54-40 in the deciding half.
“Tonight was a good win for us, very much a team win,” UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. “We got a lot of contributions from a number of sources. I thought we did a lot of things well tonight. Eastern Washington is a talented team and it makes this a very good win for us; a much-needed win.”
The Eagles built an early lead behind some sharp shooting from beyond the arc, converting on five of their first 11 attempts from three. EWU made just five of its final 30 tries though, finishing 10-for-41 for the game.
In the second half, UVU trailed by eight before going on a 14-2 run to take a 51-47 lead. Johnson’s layup tied it a 47 before consecutive buckets from Hubbard gave the Wolverines the four-point lead.
Maintaining that four-point edge with just under 11 minutes left, Hosley and Johnson drilled back-to-back treys to push the lead to 10, 64-54, before Aird added another layup to make it a 12-point lead.
The Eagles would chip away, getting within three before Johnson hit his fourth 3-pointer of the second half with 3:42 to make it 73-67.
UVU led by seven when Eastern Washington made one last run, getting consecutive 3-pointers from Jordan Hickert and Danny Powell to get within one. It was a one-point game, 81-80, when Hosley out-ran the defense for an easy two and Johnson hit a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to extend the lead to five.
The Eagles had one last-ditch effort to tie the game, but Justin Crosgile’s deep game-tying attempt at the buzzer was wide.
For Utah Valley, Nick Thompson finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in addition to the other four players in double figures. Hubbard hauled in nine rebounds while Aird and Johnson had six apiece. Holton Hunsaker dished out five assists for the Wolverines.
Eastern Washington had all five of its starters reach double figures, led by 16 from Venky Jois, but was limited by Utah Valley to just 31 percent shooting in the second half including just 4-for-22 (18.2 percent) from beyond the arc.
Crosgile, EWU's lead scoring coming in, finished with 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, but was limited to 3-for-17 shooting including 1-for-11 from the 3-point line.
Both teams will have a short turnaround. EWU plays USC Upstate on Wednesday at 6 p.m. PT with UVU facing host Santa Clara at approximately 8:15 p.m. PT/9:15 p.m. MT. Santa Clara defeated Upstate 85-65 on Tuesday.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.