In a game featuring two teams looking for their first victory of the season, the Utah Valley University men's basketball team earned an 84-71 win over Idaho State behind a career night from Jake Toolson at Reed Gym on Tuesday night.
UVU grabbed its first win of the season and improved to 1-2 for the year with the win, while ISU dropped to 0-2.
"This is a huge win for us right now and our guys are focused on staying in this left-hand column for a while," said Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope. "We're going to keep growing. I was proud of our guys' effort tonight. It's always going to be a hard game coming up here. Idaho State always competes, and it was an important game for both teams. We have a nice little rivalry going on. I was really pleased with the way my guys performed. We started a little bit tight, which is understandable. As the game got going we got into a good flow."
Kenneth Ogbe got things rolling offensively for the Wolverines with a 3-pointer, and Jake Toolson followed with back-to-back buckets in the paint. Ogbe and Jake Toolson combined for UVU's first 11 points of the game.
Coming out of the under-12 timeout, the Wolverines went on a 7-0 run to take a 21-17 lead. Ben Nakwaasah came off the bench to spark the run with steals on back-to-back plays. Idaho State answered with a 6-0 run later on to grab a one-point advantage, but a three from Jake Toolson with two minutes remaining in the half helped Utah Valley reclaim the lead.
The Wolverines scored the final six points of the half, including a three from Isaac Neilson, and took a 36-30 advantage into the locker room. Jake Toolson led the offensive attack for UVU in the first half with 16 points on a 7-of-9 clip from the field. Three different Utah Valley players grabbed three rebounds, including Brandon Randolph who added two assists and Nakwaasah who grabbed two steals.
The Bengals came out of the half hot and tied the game at 38-38, but Akolda Manyang scored back-to-back buckets, including a big dunk, and got a block on the defensive end to help the Wolverines recover. Jake Toolson continued his hot shooting night with consecutive makes of his own to put UVU up 46-41.
Manyang and Jake Toolson continued to pace the Utah Valley attack, and with 7:49 to go in the game, a layup from Randolph gave the Wolverines a 67-56 lead and forced an ISU timeout. The 11-point margin was the largest of the game to that point. Out of the timeout, UVU extended its lead to 16 with a Conner Toolson three and a fast-break layup by Neilson off an Ogbe steal.
The Wolverine defense didn't allow the Bengals to get closer than 13 for the remainder of the game, and the lead grew to as big as 19 on another three from Conner Toolson.
Jake Toolson's career night ended with 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting, including a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and 1-of-1 from the charity stripe. He also tied for the game high in assists with four and was second on the team in rebounding with five boards. Manyang finished his night with 19 points while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking one shot. Randolph also dished out four assists for UVU and chipped in eight points. Neilson was the third Wolverine in double figures with 11 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting night. As a team, UVU finished the night shooting 52.3 percent from the field.
Utah Valley now shifts its focus to its home opener against UC Davis on Saturday, Nov. 18. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. MT, at the UCCU Center. Live video will be available via the WAC Digital Network, and radio play-by-play can be listened to on ESPN 960 AM with Jim McCulloch on the call. Live stats will also be available online via GoUVU.
Jason Erickson works in the communications office at the Utah Valley University athletic department. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.