EDINBURG, Texas — Utah Valley overcame a 10-point deficit to secure a critical 76-64 win on the road over UT Rio Grande Valley on Saturday night at UTRGV Fieldhouse. With the win, the Wolverines move to 17-7 on the year, including 6-4 in WAC play. The win also pushes UVU into sole possession of third place in the conference. The Vaqueros fall to 15-13 on the year and 7-5 in conference play.
"This was a huge challenge for us on the road and I couldn't be more proud of my guys," said Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope. "We weren't great to start this game and this is a huge win for us. We did a great job of taking care of the ball against the second-best team in the country in forcing turnovers and causing steals. They've been the hottest team in the WAC and my guys came and competed and they answered the bell like they do every night."
After UVU scored the first points of the game, UT Rio Grande Valley went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-4 lead four minutes into the game. Both teams would go back and forth until the Vaqueros used another 8-0 to open up a 10-point lead, 20-10, with 11:25 to go in the half. Jake Toolson hit a three to get the UVU offense going as they were able to trim the lead down to 31-28 going into intermission.
The Wolverines got off to a quick start in the second half and took the lead at 32-31 with 18:31 in the game. After pushing the lead to three, the Vaqueros used a 9-1 run to retake the lead at 46-42 with 12:14 left in the second half. Utah Valley responded with a 9-2 run of its own, powered by TJ Washington, to take a 56-52 lead, and it would never trail again. Ben Nakwaasah hit the dagger as the Wolverines outscored the Vaqueros 14-2 over the final four minutes of the game to secure the 76-64 win.Comment on this story
Utah Valley shot 42.9 percent from field and knocked down 22-26 from the charity stripe. The Wolverines also won the battle on the boards, outrebounding the Vaqueros 38-30, converting that into a 34-26 edge in the paint.
Toolson led four Wolverines in double figures with 17 points and five rebounds. Washington dropped 14 points, including a perfect 7-7 from the foul line, and a team-leading 4 assists off the bench. Nakwaasah and Richard Harward chipped in 10 points apiece and Baylee Steele led the team with seven rebounds.
Utah Valley now returns home to host Chicago State on Thursday and Kansas City on Saturday. Both games are set to begin at 7 p.m. MST.