OREM — Coming off the bitterness of a disappointing showing in its conference tournament, one could understand when Utah Valley momentarily came out flat against Eastern Washington in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational on Tuesday at the UCCU Center.
That didn’t last long, though, as the Wolverines pushed their way to a convincing 87-65 victory over Eastern Washington.
UVU (23-10), which is led by six seniors, fell short of its goal to make the NCAA Tournament after losing to Grand Canyon in the WAC tournament semifinals last week. But the Wolverines relied on each other to stay alive in the CBI, their second straight appearance in a national postseason tournament.
“My thought process was, let’s get back to the core of who we are,” said UVU coach Mark Pope, while explaining he emphasized to his team they needed to emotionally unpack the frustration over not meeting team goals and get back to what’s “pure.”
“I want to keep winning, and I think my team feels that. We just have to keep digging until we get there, keep digging until we get to that part of every single one of my guys that is a fighter that’s been knocked down and disappointed before.”
After falling behind 10-5 in the opening minutes, UVU found its knockout mentality, particularly in the second half. UVU held Eastern Washington (20-15) to 35.7 percent shooting from the field while the Wolverines shot 55.8 percent, including 61.3 percent in the second half as they turning a seven-point game at the half into a blowout.
UVU used a pair of 9-0 runs and a 15-0 spurt in the second half to run away with the win. Seniors Kenneth Ogbe and Akolda Manyang led the second-half charge. Manyang finished the game with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Ogbe scored 17 points …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News