Las Vegas • Utah Valley and Cal State Bakersfield played 60 minutes of basketball before deciding anything in the Western Athletic Conference tournament semifinals last March.
UVU will try to advance after competing with the Roadrunners for the standard 40 minutes in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Utah Valley is led by former University of Utah guard Kenneth Ogbe, who averages 13.4 points and made the All-WAC first team. Brandon Randolph and Conner Toolson were named to the second team.
The No. 2-seeded Wolverines dominated Bakersfield in two regular-season meetings, winning by an average of 28 points. UVU should be confident in its return to Orleans Arena, but the returning players also will have to shake the memories of last March, when they lost an eight-point lead in the last 2:40 of regulation and missed a winning shot attempt in the fourth overtime of an 81-80 defeat.
The teams combined to make 23 of their first 100 shots, but the quality of basketball improved as the game went along.
Not surprisingly, the Roadrunners wore down in the second half of a 70-60 loss to New Mexico State in the championship game the next night as the Aggies advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Bakersfield led 29-20 at halftime and pushed its lead to 13 points with 15 minutes remaining.
NMSU is the tournament favorite again and is projected by ESPN for a No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But the Aggies lost at UVU and Seattle (in overtime) in mid-February, so the field should give them some resistance.
UTAH VALLEY VS. CS-BAKERSFIELD
At Orleans Arena, Las Vegas.
3:30 p.m. MST Thursday.
Radio: AM 960.
Records: UVU 21-9, CSB 12-17.
Last meeting: UVU 70, CSB 47 (Feb. 22).
About the Roadrunners: Bakersfield has four double-figures scorers, but leading scorer Damiyne Durham averages only 11.6 points. … The Roadrunners went 5-9 in the WAC to tie for sixth place, settling for the No. 7 seed.
About the Wolverines: BYU transfer Jake Toolson was named to the WAC’s All-Newcomer team and Akoldo Manyang made the All-defensive team. … The UVU-Bakersfield winner will likely meet No. 3 seed Grand Canyon; the Lopes are eligible for the WAC tournament for the first time.