Utah Valley wins slugfest with UMKC in WAC Tournament to advance to semifinals


LAS VEGAS — For a good portion of the night, Thursday’s WAC Tournament game between Utah Valley and Missouri-Kansas City resembled anything but a lopsided contest one might expect from a No. 2 vs. No. 7 matchup.

With UMKC forcing UVU into 13 turnovers and just five points during a nearly 15-minute stretch, the Kangaroos held a lead over the higher-seeded Wolverines through a good portion of the second half.

The Wolverines, though, followed the lead of senior guard Conner Toolson and sophomore center Richard Harward to a hard-fought 71-64 victory over UMKC on Thursday night in the WAC quarterfinals at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

“This is the definition of what March is supposed to be, what tournament play is supposed to be,” UVU coach Mark Pope said. “These games come down to guts. There’s nothing pretty about them, with both teams out there just slugging it out.”

Harward came up big down the stretch, including hitting a left-handed putback with 12.9 seconds to play off a Toolson miss to give UVU a 69-64 lead.

The Roos’ final possession came up empty, and Toolson, who had 21 points, wrapped up the win with a pair of free throws.

“In tournament play, you just lift your level (of play). That’s just the emotion of the game.”

UVU guard Conner Toolson

Harward had 15 points and eight rebounds off the bench for UVU (24-8).

“I realized someone just needed to get us some energy and I focused on getting rebounds,” said Harward, who scored 13 of his points after halftime.

UVU led by as many as nine points in the first half, including after Toolson hit a 3-pointer with 4:53 to go until the break. That was the Wolverines’ last field goal of the first half, though, as UMKC (11-21) proceeded to go on an 11-0 run and take a 37-35 …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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