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Utah Valley's Mitch Bruneel, left, and Texas-Pan American's Hurley Johnson fight for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the West Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. Utah Valley won 83-63. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Utah Valley basketball: UVU wins WAC tourney opener

Utah Valley picks up pace against UTPA, advances to face Idaho in semifinals.

First Published Mar 13 2014 03:38 pm • Last Updated Mar 13 2014 10:20 pm

Las Vegas • Utah Valley University improved a lot in 12 days.

That’s the logical conclusion from the Wolverines’ 83-63 victory over Texas-Pan American in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena.

At a glance

Storylines

Utah Valley makes 20 of 25 field-goal attempts in the first half and finishes at 70.5 percent, breaking a school record.

» UVU have a 34-14 rebounding advantage, while missing only 13 shots from the field.

WAC Tournament

Quarterfinals

Thursday

» UVU 83, Texas-Pan American 63

» Idaho 73, UM-Kansas City 70

» CS-Bakersfield 68, Chicago St. 62

» New Mexico St. vs. Seattle, late

Semifinals

Friday

» Utah Valley vs. Idaho, 7 pm.

» CS-Bakersfield vs. New Mexico State-Seattle winner, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday

Championship, 8 p.m.

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The Wolverines shot a school-record 70.5 percent from the field — even after they cooled off somewhat in the second half. UVU shot just 28.6 percent against UTPA in a 45-42 win March 1 at home, but this game was a different story.

No. 1-seeded UVU hit the 45-point mark with 3:10 remaining in the first half, which ended with the Wolverines holding a 51-25 lead. Senior guard Holton Hunsaker led UVU (20-10) with 24 points and forward Mitch Bruneel added 18, making all eight of his shots from the field. Guard Shaquille Boga scored 21 points for UTPA (9-23), the No. 8 seed.

The Broncs rallied in the second half, cutting the lead to 63-51 on Boga’s 3-pointer with 8:53 remaining. Boga missed a 3-point attempt on UTPA’s next possession and the Wolverines stabilized themselves with a 9-2 run that included seven points from Hayes Garrity.

Keawe Enos’ jump shot with 14 seconds left enabled the Wolverines to break their Division I-era shooting record of 70.2 percent, set in 2006.

Because of UVU’s shooting success, the Broncs’ 14 rebounds barely topped the 13 boards for the Wolverines’ Ben Aird.

UVU’s lackluster performance against the Broncs in Orem might be attributed to a letdown that followed an emotional win over New Mexico State two nights earlier. The Wolverines dominated this game, producing their biggest margin of victory over a WAC opponent this season.

The Wolverines will face No. 5 seed Idaho, a 73-70 winner over Missouri-Kansas City, in Friday’s semifinals. Forward Stephen Madison scored 26 points and Utah transfer Glen Dean added 14 in Idaho’s quarterfinal victory. In two regular-season meetings, UVU beat the Vandals by a total of six points.


Utah Valley 83,Texas-Pan American 63

TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN (9-23)

Hines 6-11 2-4 14, Cleveland 2-6 3-6 7, Leathers 2-7 0-0 5, Boga 7-15 4-7 21, Johnson 6-9 2-3 16, Provost 0-1 0-0 0, McIntosh 0-1 0-0 0, Toivonen 0-1 0-2 0, Majewski 0-0 0-0 0, Hildebrandt 0-0 0-0 0.

Totals 23-51 11-22 63.

UTAH VALLEY (20-10)

Bruneel 8-8 0-0 18, Nelson 3-4 1-1 7, Aird 4-6 0-0 8, Enos 4-5 2-2 12, Hunsaker 7-13 6-6 24, Garrity 3-6 2-2 9, Evans 1-1 0-0 2, Ross 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 1-1 0-0 3, Robison 0-0 0-0 0.

Totals 31-44 11-11 83.

Halftime—Utah Valley St. 51-25. 3-Point Goals—Texas-Pan American 6-19 (Boga 3-6, Johnson 2-4, Leathers 1-5, Provost 0-1, McIntosh 0-1, Hines 0-2), Utah Valley St. 10-15 (Hunsaker 4-7, Bruneel 2-2, Enos 2-3, Brown 1-1, Garrity 1-2). Fouled Out—Aird. Rebounds—Texas-Pan American 14 (Cleveland 4), Utah Valley St. 34 (Aird 13). Assists—Texas-Pan American 11 (Boga, Johnson 3), Utah Valley St. 22 (Hunsaker 7). Total Fouls—Texas-Pan American 16, Utah Valley St. 19. Technicals—Johnson, Garrity. A—NA.



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