OREM — Fardaws Aimaq is the reigning WAC Player of the Year for a reason. In a Saturday afternoon matinee, despite missing a good portion of the first half on Saturday with foul trouble, Aimaq showed why.
Aimaq had a game-high 20 points and 17 rebounds to lead Utah Valley to a 79-71 win over Dixie State in the Old Hammer rivalry at the UCCU Center. Four other Wolverines were in double figures on the afternoon. Connor Harding had 14 points. Blaze Nield had 13 points. Tim Fuller and Asa McCord were the other Wolverines in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Frank Staine led the Trailblazers with 15 points. Isaiah Pope had 13 points, Jacob Nicolds had 12 and Cameron Gooden had 11 points for Dixie State.
Utah Valley jumped out to an early 6-0 and pushed the lead to double digits with 12:30 to play on Asa McCord’s corner 3-pointer. Blaze Nield’s 3-pointer with 9:06 to play in the first half made it a 19-point lead.
First points by Fardaws! ?#GoUVU #UVUmbb pic.twitter.com/61SftvlWSy
— UVU Men’s Basketball (@UVUmbb) January 8, 2022
Isaiah Pope’s 3-pointer to end halftime cut the deficit to 14. And Dixie State used a 6-0 run out of the break to cut the deficit to eight. But, Utah Valley responded. And for most of the second half, the Wolverines kept the Trailblazers at bay. The Utah Valley defense never really let Dixie State get into an offensive flow in the second half. For most of the second half, the Wolverines led by no less than eight points.
Down the stretch, Isaiah Pope and Trevon Allfrey did all they could to keep Dixie State within striking distance. Utah Valley didn’t help itself with turnovers and missed free throws. But, in the end, the Wolverines came out on top in the first installment of the 2021-22 Old Hammer rivalry series.
Dixie State heads to Riverside to take on CBU on Wednesday. Utah Valley travels to the Pacific Northwest to take on Seattle on Thursday.
Utah Valley is now a program-best 11-4 and 2-1 in WAC play. Dixie State drops to 7-9 overall and 0-3 in WAC play.
Story will be updated.