GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Led by a career-high 24 points from Akolda Manyang, including nine of the team's 11 points in overtime, the Utah Valley University men's basketball team knocked off defending Big Sky champion North Dakota, 83-75, at the Sioux Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Wolverines earned their fourth-straight victory and improved to 4-2 on the season, while North Dakota dropped to 3-3 for the year.
"This is a little championship-team run that we're on here. This is another team that won their conference outright and their conference tournament last year," said UVU head coach Mark Pope. "I love the fact that we're getting the chance to play these guys and see how we can grow. I think our guys grew tonight."
In the winning effort, Utah Valley shot 46.9 percent from the field as a team, including a 6-of-18 clip from the 3-point line. The UVU defensive effort also produced eight blocks and five steals.
Both teams struggled to get going from the field early as North Dakota took a small 2-0 lead into the first media timeout. Out of the break, Brandon Randolph and Kenneth Ogbe got UVU on the board with back-to-back layups.
Randolph continued to pace the Wolverines by knocking down multiple threes to lead the attack. Ben Nakwaasah added a layup off a steal to push the lead to double digits for the first time with just more than nine minutes to play in the first half.
UND responded with an 8-0 run, but Utah Valley was able to stave it off and took a 38-34 lead into halftime. Randolph led the Wolverines with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including a 3-of-4 clip from long distance. Ogbe, Manyang and Isaac Neilson chipped in seven points apiece, while Neilson also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Randolph stayed hot with a bucket right out of the gate in the second half, but the Fighting Hawks proceeded to push their way to a three-point lead. A pair of free throws from Jake Toolson and a big dunk by Manyang helped UVU regain the lead.
A barrage of 3-pointers from North Dakota around the 10-minute mark put it up by four, but the Wolverines stayed close with multiple players getting points in the paint. Facing a two-point deficit with just less than five minutes to play, Conner Toolson found a loose ball and hit a three to take a one-point advantage in the game.
The score remained tight and UND took a two-point lead with less than a minute to go in the game, but Conner Toolson hit a pair from the charity stripe with 19 seconds remaining to even the score at 67-67. North Dakota had a chance to win it in regulation, but Manyang blocked a shot at the horn, and the game headed to overtime.
Two free throws from Ogbe and a bucket from Jake Toolson got Utah Valley running in overtime, and a Manyang basket in the paint put the Wolverines up by four. UVU went on to hit eight free throws during the extra period on the way to the eight-point victory.
Manyang's career day earned him nine rebounds and six blocks to go along with his 24 points. Randolph also added four rebounds, four assists and two steals to his 19 points. Neilson led Utah Valley on the boards with 11 to go along with seven points, and Jake Toolson was close behind with seven points and 10 rebounds of his own.
Conner Toolson's 12 points all came in the second half, and Ogbe was the final Wolverine in double figures with 12 points to go along with five rebounds.
Utah Valley now returns home for a three-game homestand, which begins with the UCCU Crosstown Clash against rival BYU on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Tipoff for that game is at 7 p.m. MT, and can be viewed on BYUTV. Following the matchup with the Cougars, UVU will welcome UTSA and in-state foe Weber State to the UCCU Center.