CEDAR CITY — Wednesday night at the America First Event Center in Cedar City, two future WAC foes took the floor. And if Wednesday night is any indication, when Southern Utah joins the WAC in July, 2023, this future I-15 rivalry with Utah Valley is going to be a fun one.
John Knight II had 16 points and Maizen Fausett had 15 points to lead the Thunderbirds to a 60-56 win over the Wolverines.
Fardaws Aimaq had another double-double for Utah Valley with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Connor Harding was also in double figures for the Wolverines with 15 points.
A leader from the start ?#StormTheSky pic.twitter.com/WLM0xZR35K
— SUU Men's Basketball (@SUUBasketball) December 9, 2021
One week following its upset win over No. 12 BYU, Utah Valley was looking for another signature win. Southern Utah is the preseason favorite to win the Big Sky Conference. And the Thunderbirds had a KenPom ranking of 132 coming into tonight. So, for Utah Valley it was another opportunity to show it was for real.
But, things don’t go according to plan. Jaden McClanahan tied the game up at 50 with a layup with 9:52 to play. And over the course of that final 9:52, the game was a bit of a defensive slugfest.
The next bucket was scored nearly three minutes later on a John Knight III layup with 6:08 to play. Utah Valley’s first bucket after the game was tied up at 50 came at the 4:01 mark on a Tim Fuller layup. Maizen Fausett’s 3-pointer with 2:53 was the dagger as Utah Valley couldn’t get over the hump. Connor Harding missed a game-tying 3-point attempt with three seconds to play and Knight III hit one of two free throws to seal the win for the Thunderbirds.
For the game, Utah Valley shot 35 percent and was 5-21 from deep. Southern Utah wasn’t much better offensively. The Thunderbirds shot 42 percent and 5-19 from deep. Utah Valley won the rebounding margin 38-35, had six steals and seven blocks in the game. And perhaps something positive from all this is Utah Valley held Southern Utah nearly 20 points under its season average.
Utah Valley as also without its second leading scorer. Justin Harmon, who had a career-high 24 points against BYU on Wednesday, broke his wrist in practice this week and is out six weeks.
Utah Valley drops to 7-2 overall. Next up for the Wolverines is a trip to the high plains. Utah Valley plays at Wyoming in the Arena-Auditorium on Saturday afternoon.
Other WAC Wednesday Games
Tarleton 81, Southwest Assemblies of God 75
Montre Gipson had a game-high 29 points and the Texans won their second straight game. Tarleton jumped out to a big lead and then just coasted with the backup players. It is the second straight win over a non-DI opponent after losing to Charleston Southern on Sunday. Tarleton is now 3-7 on the season and go to South Alabama on Tuesday.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi 75, UTRGV 69
The Islanders swept the season series against the Vaqueros with Wednesday night’s win. A&M CC outscored the Vaqueros 46-33 in the second half en route to the rivalry win in South Texas. Isaac Mushila led all scorers with 27 for the Islanders. Ricky ‘Doc’ Nelson had 17 to lead the Vaqueros. UTRGV hosts Texas Southern on Tuesday. The last time UTRGV played Texas Southern on February 6, 2021, was the last time Lew Hill roamed the sideline.
UNLV 76, Seattle 56
Seattle may hope it doesn’t play in one of the first two games of the WAC tournament in March. The first two games are at Michelob Ultra Arena and the Redhawks had a miserable second half. The Runnin’ Rebels ran the Redhawks out of the gym after halftime. UNLV outscored the Redhawks 40-26 in the second half and held All-WAC guard Darrion Trammell to just six points in the contest. Next up for Seattle is a home contest against UC San Diego.