Led by a suffocating defensive effort in the second half and multiple offensive runs throughout the game, the Utah Valley University men's basketball team defeated Montana Tech, 84-56, on Wednesday night at the UCCU Center.
"Montana Tech does a great job of running the Princeton offense and it's really hard to guard," said UVU head coach Mark Pope. "They get you twisted and turned around if you're not playing with 100 percent intensity, and our guys did. Our guys were really good defensively. From the tip to the buzzer we were really solid, so I'm proud of the guys and feel good about it. Now we've got a really big game on Friday."
Utah Valley moved to 8-5 overall on the season with the win and improved its home record to 6-1. As a team, UVU shot 56.4 percent from the field while holding Montana Tech to just 36.2 percent on the night. The Wolverines won the rebounding battle, 47-22, and assisted on 19-of-31 made baskets.
A 10-3 run got UVU out to an early lead as the Wolverines earned most of their points in the paint and from trips to the charity stripe. Akolda Manyang, Kenneth Ogbe and Jake Toolson combined to score the first 20 points of the game for Utah Valley before Conner Toolson broke into the scoring column.
Back-to-back threes from Ogbe and Ben Nakwaasah capped a 9-2 run that gave the Wolverines their first double-digit lead of the game. In the closing minutes of the first half, Utah Valley completed a 17-2 stretch that aided them in taking a 47-25 lead into halftime.
Ogbe and Manyang led the Wolverines in the half with 13 and 11 points apiece, and Manyang was UVU's leading rebounder with six. Ogbe, Jake Toolson and Brandon Randolph each dished out three assists in the opening half of play, while Conner Toolson grabbed two steals on the defensive end.
After the Diggers opened the second half with a quick bucket, Utah Valley scored the next six to grow its lead to 26. Overall, the Wolverines' stretch to open the second half turned into a 14-2 run.
Utah Valley came out of the locker room defensive minded as it allowed just eight points through the first 10 minutes of the second half. Throughout that stretch, Randolph and Jake Toolson combined for three steals and Isaac Neilson added a block.
The lead for the Wolverines grew to as much as 37, and all the reserves saw minutes for UVU as it cruised to the 28-point victory.
Ogbe led Utah Valley in the scoring column with 17 for the night on a 7-of-11 clip from the field. Manyang and Jake Toolson finished the game with 12 and 11 points apiece, while Randolph and Conner Toolson ended up with 10 and 11, respectively. Neilson and Manyang each led UVU in rebounding with seven, and Jake Toolson and Randolph each dished out four assists.
The Wolverines face a quick turnaround as they head to Texas for a matchup with Sam Houston State on Friday, Dec. 22. Friday's contest tips at 11 a.m. MST. Following a break for the holidays, UVU will return home for a game against UC Riverside on Thursday, Dec. 28.