In a hard-fought game that saw five players foul out, the Utah Valley University men's basketball team fell to Hawaii, 70-69, at the Stan Sheriff Center on Sunday night.
Utah Valley dropped to 7-5 on the season with the loss, while Hawaii pushed its record to 7-2. In addition to the five players that fouled out, four more players finished the night with four fouls apiece. Despite suffering the loss, the Wolverines won the rebounding battle, 34-30, and scored more bench points and points in the paint than the Rainbow Warriors.
Both teams struggled to score out of the gate as there were only six combined points with more than four minutes completed. Out of an early timeout, UVU used a quick 6-0 run to erase a four-point deficit and grab the lead.
Later in the half, a 3-pointer from Kenneth Ogbe capped an 11-2 run and put the Wolverines up by seven. Hawaii responded by scoring nine-straight points to take a 23-21 advantage, but a pair of free throws from Jake Toolson ended the run and tied the game with just less than five minutes to play.
Another 9-0 run from the Rainbow Warriors put them up by eight, but six-straight points from Utah Valley narrowed the deficit to two. One final free throw gave Hawaii a 36-33 lead heading into halftime.
Toolson led the way for UVU in the first half with 10 points and four rebounds. With Akolda Manyang in foul trouble, the Wolverines got a lift from the bench as the reserves combined for a third of Utah Valley's first-half points. UVU also used 10 points in the paint and 10 points off turnovers to keep the game close. A pair of 3-pointers from Ogbe helped the Wolverines' first-half efforts.
Facing a six-point deficit early on in the second half, UVU went on a 9-2 run to take its first advantage of the half. Manyang fouled out shortly after, and several other Wolverines faced foul trouble as Hawaii used several trips to the charity stripe to hold onto a slim lead.
Back-to-back buckets from Brandon Randolph sparked a stretch for Utah Valley that saw it take a four-point lead, its largest of the half. The Rainbow Warriors then took a four-point advantage of their own on an eight-point run, but Ben Nakwaasah hit a big three to keep the Wolverines close.
Hawaii proceeded to go up by five, but UVU chipped away and tied the game before the Rainbow Warriors went back up by three. Utah Valley scored the next four, and with 48 seconds remaining, Zach Nelson hit a shot in the paint to put the Wolverines up by one.
Hawaii drained a three on its next possession to go up two, and Nelson connected on one of two free throws on the other end to make the score 70-69. Utah Valley had one final chance to win the game but was unable to find the basket.
Toolson led the way for UVU with 18 points and six rebounds, while Randolph was close behind with 14 points and four rebounds. Nelson was the final Wolverine to score in double digits with 10, while also grabbing five rebounds. The three also combined to shoot 20-of-22 from the foul line.
The Wolverines now return to Orem for a quick home game against Montana Tech on Wednesday, Dec. 20. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. MST, and can be viewed on the WAC Digital Network. Following Wednesday's contest, UVU will travel to Texas where it will face Sam Houston State on Friday, Dec. 22.