LAS VEGAS — Conner Toolson scored a game-high 21 points and Richard Harward knocked down a go-ahead free throw with two minutes remaining to help lift Utah Valley to a 71-64 win over No. 7 Kansas City on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Trailing 62-59 with three minutes to play, Jake Toolson made a turnaround hook shot to cut the UMKC to just one point, 62-61, with 2:46 remaining. After a Conner Toolson steal, Harward was fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Wolverines a 63-62 lead with two minutes to play. UVU then outscored UMKC 8-4 the rest of the way to secure the 71-64 win.
With the win, Utah Valley (24-8) breaks the school record for wins in a season with 24, surpassing the record of 23 wins set last season.
"I'm really proud of these guys," said Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope. "This is the definition of what March is supposed to be. These games just come down to guts. There's nothing pretty about them. It's just both teams slugging it out. We couldn't be more excited to get the win and move on to Friday's semifinal."
Utah Valley and Kansas City played through four lead changes and four ties over the first eight minutes of the first half with the Wolverines taking a 17-14 advantage at the 11:55 mark. UVU then went on an 8-2 run to jump out to a 25-16 lead with 8:42 left in the half. UMKC responded with a 14-3 run over a 5:13 span to take a 37-35 lead into the break.
Kansas City outscored the Wolverines 6-2 over the first 4:11 of the first half to extend its lead to five points, 43-38, with 15:49 to play. UMKC then took its biggest lead of the game, 49-40, with 12:19 to play. Richard Harward then led UVU on an 11-3 UVU run with seven points before Conner Toolson converted a 3-point play to tie the game, 54-54, with 6:42 to play. Trailing 59-56 with 3:25 to play, Conner Toolson knocked down a 3 to tie the game, 59-59. UMKC's Xavier Bishop responded back with a 3 of his own at the three-minute mark to give the 'Roos a 62-59 lead before a Jake Toolson turnaround hook shot cut it to a 62-61 UKC advantage with 2:46 to play. Harward was fouled on the other end and connected on a pair of free throws to give UVU a lead it would not relinquish as the Wolverines held on for the 71-64 win.Comment on this story
Conner Toolson scored his 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the floor, including a pair of shots from long range. He was a perfect 3-of-3 from the charity stripe and registered a pair of steals in 34 minutes of play. Harward tallied his 15 points on a 6-of-7 mark from the field, including a 3-of-4 clip from the free-throw line. He also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
Utah Valley now moves on to the semifinals of the tournament to take on the winner of the Thursday late night game between No. 3 Grand Canyon and No. 7 Seattle U. Tipoff for Friday's semifinal game is set for 8:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. MT.