In a tightly contested game that saw the score stay within roughly five points for the majority of the contest, Cal State Fullerton pulled away late to defeat the Utah Valley University men's basketball team 91-83 Saturday night at Titan Gym.
Utah Valley fell to 6-4 with the loss and Cal State Fullerton improved to 6-3. The Wolverines outshot the opposition on the night behind a 55.6 percent clip from the field, and won the rebounding battle 34-32. Utah Valley had four more transition points than Fullerton, and points in the paint were even at 36 apiece.
After a 5-0 start from the Titans, Kenneth Ogbe got UVU's offense going by hitting a corner three and then driving for an easy layup on the next possession. Cal State Fullerton worked its lead up to eight early on, but Utah Valley fought its way back and went on a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 17-16, into the first media timeout.
The next stretch of the contest featured both teams hitting multiple shots from 3-point range, though neither side was able to pull away. Altogether, both squads combined to knock down 11 threes in the opening half of play.
With Fullerton up six and threatening to pull ahead, Brandon Randolph hit a floater in the lane and Ben Nakwaasah grabbed a steal that led to a layup on the other end to pull the Wolverines back within two. Moments later, Akolda Manyang hit a layup to even the game and Jake Toolson hit a free throw to give UVU the lead. Both teams traded leads for the remainder of the half, and the Titans took a 41-40 advantage into the break.
The second half opened and both teams continued to trade baskets. Neither team could go up by more than four until the Titans went on a 6-0 run to take a 62-56 lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game. UVU answered with a 7-0 run of its own, sparked by a Zach Nelson 3-point play, to go up by one.
Cal State Fullerton slowly rebuilt its advantage and went up by nine with under five minutes to play. Ogbe and Manyang kept the Wolverines close by hitting jumpers and free throws, but the Titans had an answer for every Utah Valley score and rode their hot shooting to the eight-point victory.
All five UVU starters finished the game in double-digit scoring. Ogbe led the way with 17 while Jake Toolson and Manyang finished with 15 points each. Manyang also led the Wolverines in rebounding with nine for the night.
Randolph contributed in all areas of the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists. Conner Toolson scored 11 while grabbing five rebounds.
UVU now comes home for one game against Bethesda before making the long trip to Honolulu to face Hawaii. The matchup with Bethesda will take place on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. MST at the UCCU Center. The game will be broadcast on the WAC Digital Network and can be listened to on ESPN 960 AM. The Wolverines' battle with Hawaii will happen on Sunday, Dec. 17.