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Utah Valley big man Fardaws Aimaq leads the nation in rebounds at 15.3 per game. Courtesy Katy Herrin/UVU Athletics.
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Seattle, Utah Valley Struggle Against In-State Foes on WAC Wednesday

In-state and regional games are always something to get excited about. And in 2020, those games are happening at a higher rate. On Wednesday night, both Seattle and Utah Valley took to the floor against in-state foes. The Redhawks were finishing a 14-day road trip at Washington. Utah Valley was hosting potentially the newest member of the WAC in Southern Utah.

And, unfortunately for both Seattle and Utah Valley, Wednesday night wasn’t enjoyable.

Offensive lulls and a career-high night from Tevian Jones doomed the Wolverines in an 81-71 loss to the Thunderbirds. And despite hanging around for the first 15 minutes or so, Seattle got throttled by the crosstown Huskies. 

Communication Issues, Lack of Energy in Spurts Hurt Utah Valley

Stop Southern Utah guard John Knight III. That was the game plan on Wednesday night for Utah Valley against its in-state foe from Cedar City. And the game plan was nearly flawless. Knight finished with just four points on four field goal attempts. 

Unfortunately, the Wolverines failed to adjust to the game and Southern Utah guard Tevian Jones took advantage. Jones had a career-high 33 points on 10-23 shooting including 5-12 from beyond the arc. 21 of the 33 points came in the first half. Utah Valley never made the adjustment to stop Jones. The sole focus was on Knight III, thus allowing Jones to go off. 

Despite Jones’ big night, Utah Valley had opportunities to take control of the game. Forcing the tempo, creating pressure, and getting out in transition was key in Utah Valley cutting a double-digit halftime deficit to just one with 14:45 to play. Jordan Brinson hit a driving layup and drew a foul making it a 53-52 game. Brinson missed the free throw and it was almost like the air was taken out of the Wolverines.

Fardaws Aimaq, who finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds, hit a jumper in the paint with 14:09 to play. But from there, Southern Utah exploded. The Thunderbirds used an 11-2 run over the next five minutes to take a 66-56 lead. Tevin Jones capped off the run with a deep 3-pointer. 

The offensive lulls are killing Utah Valley right now. The Wolverines, at the current time, don’t have a player they can go to in a difficult situation to get a bucket. Fardaws Aimaq, Trey Woodbury and Jamison Overton all have that potential. However, communication is lacking in those situations and for whatever reason, nobody is stepping up and being the leader. 

The other problem facing the Wolverines is a lack of energy that comes in waves throughout the contest. Last week in a win against Westminster, it was a tale of two halves. On Wednesday night against Southern Utah, a tale of two halves. When Utah Valley turns on the energy, they play fantastic basketball. The Wolverines are in rhythm, offensive execution is extremely good, and it’s fun to watch. 

Offensive Struggles Lead to Blowout Loss

The 2020 crosstown game in the Pacific Northwest had potential for an upset. Washington has struggled early on in the 2020-21 season. Seattle has played six games and found a special player in Darrion Trammel. And for fans, in-state games are always fun. 

And for the first ten minutes, Seattle held its own.

Getting out in transition, Trammel hit a driving layup with 6:47 to play in the first half to make it a 23-19 game. Unfortunately for Seattle, that is as close as the Redhawks would get for the rest of the night. Washington went on a 14-3 run to end the first half, taking a 37-22 lead into the locker room.

And the offensive struggles carried over into the second half for Seattle. It took the Redhawks nearly four minutes to get their first bucket of the second half. Riley Grigsby hit a jumper in the paint with 16:15 to play to break the spell. 

How bad was it, you ask? Well, Seattle broke the 30-point barrier with 7:33 to play. Yes, it took nearly 33 minutes of gameplay for the Redhawks to eclipse 30 points. At that point it was a 28-point lead for the Huskies. 

“We shot the ball poorly, we rebounded the ball poorly, we defended poorly,” said Head Coach Jim Hayford. “UW came very, very hungry. Their pride had been challenged and they responded and played a great basketball game. When we got challenged, we didn’t answer the call. We have a lot of work to do as a team.”

Perhaps the worst part of the night for Seattle was Washington’s Reagan Lundeen rubbing salt in the wound hitting a jumper with 9 seconds to play that made it a 73-41 final score. 

Image courtesy of Katy Herrin/UVU Athletics.

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