Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen has some pretty good guards. When Justin Harmon, Trey Woodbury, and Le’Tre Darthard play well, the Wolverines usually win a ball game.
What happened at the Orleans Arena on Thursday night was nearly a clinic by two of the three.
Woodbury and Harmon combined for 44 to propel Utah Valley into the WAC semifinals with a 72-58 win over Tarleton.
Utah Valley now awaits the winner of Southern Utah and Utah Tech.
Perhaps there was a massive chip on the shoulders of the Wolverines. Maybe it was simply that Trey Woodbury loves playing at Orleans Arena. Whatever it was, Harmon and Woodbury put on a surgical clinic.
Woodbury knocked down a 3-pointer to get the Wolverines on the board. Harmon followed that up with a driving layup on the following Utah Valley possession. Woodbury then hit another 3-pointer to give Utah Valley an early 8-6 lead.
Two years ago, in his return to Las Vegas, Trey Woodbury scored 32 points at the Orleans Arena in a loss to New Mexico State.
It is safe to say Woodbury loves playing at Orleans Arena.
Justin Harmon was just as good. Driving layups, 3-pointers, and hitting shots in big moments in the first half were on full display.
Harmon’s 3-pointer with 8:48 left in the first half gave the Wolverines a 19-13 lead.
After a pair of Jakorie Smith free throws, Harmon responded with a fast break jumper.
Tiger Booker started a little 4-0 spurt before Harmon responded with another layup.
Booker made his presence felt late in the first half. Back-to-back buckets cut Utah Valley’s lead to four with 1:49 left in the half.
However, Trey Woodbury responded with his own 5-0 run, capping it with a deep 3-pointer in transition to push the lead back to nine.
Shakur Daniel cut the deficit to seven with a jumper to end the half.
Four straight points to start the second half cut the deficit to three.
And Trey Woodbury had the response on the other end with a 3-pointer.
A few minutes later, after Jakorie Smith’s fast break layup cut the deficit to one, Harmon pulled a quick one. Harmon went coast-to-coast, and in traffic, hit the reverse layup to push the lead back to three.
On the following Utah Valley possession, Harmon completed the and-1 opportunity to make it a 5-point lead.
Follow Le’Tre Darthard’s layup that gave Utah Valley a 59-48 lead, the WAC Defensive Player of the Year made his presence felt.
Azizi Bandaogo blocked three Tarleton shot attempts on one possession. And, after Blaze Nield came down with the defensive rebound, Bandaogo found himself on the other end of a two-handed, alley-oop dunk.
All of a sudden it was 61-48 Utah Valley lead.
Aziz on both ends! pic.twitter.com/lNMDl7GvGw
— UVU Men’s Basketball (@UVUmbb) March 10, 2023
On the following possession, Tim Fuller found a wide-open Bandaogo for a reverse dunk.
Tarleton wasn’t able to recover.
Le’Tre Darthard hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 16 with 2:02 to play for good measure.
Justin Harmon finished with a game-high 23 points. Trey Woodbury finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Aziz Bandaogo had 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Le’Tre Darthard also finished in double figures with 11 points.
It’s worth noting that Utah Valley won by 14 despite committing 20 turnovers.
With the win, Utah Valley advances to the 2023 WAC Tournament semifinals to face either Southern Utah or Utah Tech.
Jakorie Smith led Tarleton with 12 points. Shamir Bogues had 11 points. Freddy Hicks and Tiger Booker each finished with 10 points.
Tarleton finishes its third season of the Division I era 17-16 overall. The Texans have increased the win total in all three seasons since joining the Division I ranks. Tarleton had 10 wins in its first season, 14 wins in year two and then 17 wins in 2022-23.