In its second conference game of the season, the Utah Valley University men's basketball team shot an impressive 53.3 percent from the field on its way to defeating Missouri Kansas City, 95-59, on Thursday night at the UCCU Center.
With the win, the Wolverines improved to 13-5 overall on the year and 2-0 in WAC play. The winning streak for Utah Valley is now six games, the longest of the season. UVU's solid game from long distance marked the fifth game with 10 or more made threes on the season. A 35-20 margin in the rebounding battle and 28 points off 19 forced turnovers both contributed to the win for the Wolverines. UVU also enjoyed a 38-18 advantage in points in the paint.
"I like the way we're playing right now, especially on the defensive end of the floor," said UVU head coach Mark Pope. "UMKC is a young team that is figuring itself out right now, but they just race the ball up and down the floor and play really fast and aggressive, so I was really excited about our effort tonight. I'm proud of the team and it's another great win for us."
Utah Valley's offense got off to a quick start when Conner Toolson connected on a shot from long distance on the game's first possession, and Kenneth Ogbe hit a layup the next trip down the floor. Toolson went on to knock down his second three just a few moments later.
Holding a two-point lead at the 14-minute mark, Ogbe and Jerrelle DeBerry combined to hit three-consecutive 3-pointers and push UVU's lead to nine. Following a layup from Zach Nelson, Ben Nakwaasah subbed in and knocked down another three, followed by Deberry's second make from downtown. Another three and layup from Conner Toolson capped a 19-4 run for Utah Valley.
UMKC was able to find a little rhythm on offense before the half ended, but UVU gradually built its lead and took a 44-27 advantage into the break. Conner Toolson's 11 points on a 4-of-4 clip from the field, including 3-of-3 from long distance, led the Wolverines in the first half. DeBerry pitched in nine off the bench with a 2-of-2 mark from three, and Ogbe scored eight. Isaac Neilson grabbed seven first-half rebounds, while Jake Toolson dished out five assists. Utah Valley knocked down eight threes in the half.
UVU started quickly again in the second half with a 23-3 run through the opening seven minutes. Ogbe scored 10 points during the stretch, including a pair of threes. The Wolverines continued to grow their lead with hot shooting and solid defense, and a free throw from Nelson extended the lead to 40 with seven minutes to play. Utah Valley continued to maintain its lead and earned its second-straight 30-plus point victory.
Ogbe led the way in scoring for UVU on the night with 18 points on four threes. Conner Toolson was close behind with 17 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the field, including a 3-of-3 clip from distance. Conner Toolson also snagged five rebounds to go along with three assists, three steals and a block. DeBerry joined Conner Toolson with 17 points off the bench, while knocking down three shots from long range of his own.
Nakwaasah also had a solid game off the bench with 13 points on a 3-of-5 clip from long range to go along with two rebounds and two assists. Neilson led Utah Valley on the glass with nine rebounds in addition to six points, two steals and a block. Jake Toolson was the assist leader on the night with six, and he also pitched in eight points. Nelson put in nine points off the bench while grabbing four rebounds.
The Wolverines now gear up for their final game of the homestand against Chicago State on Saturday, Jan. 13. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MST, and live video is available via UVU TV and the WAC Digital Network. Live radio can also be heard on ESPN 960 AM. Utah Valley will then take its first WAC road trip of the season with games at UTRGV on Jan. 18 and New Mexico State on Jan. 20.