Brandon Randolph scored a team-high 12 points and Isaac Neilson pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds to lead the Utah Valley University men's basketball team in a 70-61 setback to WAC foe Chicago State on Thursday night at the UCCU Center.
Utah Valley falls to 8-9 overall and 0-2 in WAC play with the loss. Chicago State ups its record to 5-14 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
"As you can imagine there's not a ton to say," said Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope. "First of all, congratulations to Chicago State. They're the one team in this conference that's probably had a harder schedule than us, and they came on the road and got us. They have tough kids and they played hard and stayed with it. Those guys should be really proud of what they did. I'm happy for those guys because they're going through a lot of difficult things."
Tied 6-6 with 12:55 to play in the first half, Utah Valley went on an 11-0 run during the next three minutes to jump out to a 17-6 advantage with 9:47 remaining in the half. The Wolverines extended their lead to as many as 14 points with 6:35 to go in the half, but Chicago State outscored UVU, 14-7, the rest of the way to cut the UVU advantage to just five points, 33-28, at the break.
With UVU leading 38-31 just a minute and a half into the second half, Chicago State used a 16-2 run in a four-minute span to jump out to a 50-40 lead with 11:53 to play. Utah Valley responded with a 10-3 run of its own to get to within three points, 53-50, with 8:26 remaining. But the Cougars outscored the Wolverines, 17-11, the rest of the way to secure the victory.
Randolph scored his 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and a 2-of-2 mark from the charity stripe. The junior guard also pulled down six rebounds with one assist and a steal. Conner Toolson was also in double figures with 10 points, connecting on 4-of-12 shots from the field. Toolson also had eight rebounds, two assists and a block.
Neilson's 13 boards marks his 10th double-digit rebound performance of the season. The junior forward also scored seven points with a career-high six blocks. Zach Nelson scored eight points with five rebounds and two blocks. Hayden Schenck scored seven points with a pair of rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
Fred Sims Jr. led Chicago State with a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double. Clemmye Owens V was also in double figures with 14 points.
As a team, Utah Valley shot 37.9 percent (22-of-58) from the field with a 14.8 percent (4-of-27) clip from beyond the arc. Chicago State knocked down 35.9 percent (23-of-64) of its shots on the night, including a 45 percent (9-of-20) clip from long range.
"We'll see what we have in us," Pope said. "I don't think we envisioned starting this conference season 0-2, and my guys are really twisted up right now. They're pretty vulnerable right now and we have to find a way to come together as a team and show some toughness. We have to kind of rediscover ourselves. We don't have a ton of room for error right now, just as fragile as my team is. We've got a really tough game on Saturday against UMKC and we'll see what we can do."
Utah Valley continues WAC play at home on Saturday against UMKC. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., at the UCCU Center.
Jason Erickson works in the communications office at the Utah Valley University athletic department. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.