Wolverines lose heartbreaker in GWC Tournament

Nick Thompson

March 14, 2013

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CHICAGO -- Utah Valley University suffered a heartbreaking end to its season in a double-overtime loss to Houston Baptist University, 76-74, in the opening round of the 2013 Great West Conference Tournament on Thursday.

Rob Lewis' 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 2.6 seconds left sent HBU (13-16) on to the quarterfinals on Friday against league champion NJIT. Lewis finished with a game-high 24 points for the Huskies including seven in the second extra frame.

Nick Thompson led Utah Valley with 22 points and 13 rebounds, Jason Johnson scored 20 and Ben Aird added 19 for the Wolverines (14-18).

"We fought and we competed and gave a good effort, they just had a little bit more in the tank," said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. "Give Houston Baptist credit. They worked through many momentum swings and big shots and came up with the game-winner."

The Wolverines trailed 71-68 in the second overtime before Holton Hunsaker knocked down game-tying three and followed it up with another trey to push UVU in front 74-71.

Lewis hit a jumper with 47 seconds left to get HBU within a point before knocking down the fateful triple.

Thursday's double-OT contest was the fourth overtime game for Utah Valley during the 2012-13 season and second that went two extra periods. The Wolverines were 3-1 in overtime games this season.

The score was tied 16 times and the lead changed hands 17 times in the airtight contest.

The teams played the first half to an even 27-27 tie. The Wolverines led by eight early on but the Huskies chipped away behind a 13-point first half from Art Bernardi, whose bucket with 49 seconds left in the half gave HBU its first lead of the game, 27-25.

Johnson got a steal and fed Thompson for two of his nine first-half points as time expired to even the score at the break. Aird also had nine before halftime for UVU.

The second half was more of the same, with neither team securing more than a three-point advantage over the final 19 minutes. Houston Baptist led 44-41 after a three from Lewis with 12:27 left but the Wolverines responded with a 6-0 spurt to lead 47-44.

HBU led by two with under two minutes left when Thompson put back a missed shot to knot the game at 55-55 with 1:45 remaining. Both teams had chances in the waning seconds but neither could convert, send the game to the extra frame.

In the first overtime, the Wolverines took a five-point lead after a layup from Thompson and a three-point play from Aird on an assist from Johnson.

HBU would score the next seven points though, and led 64-62 after two Marcel Smith free throws with 46.1 seconds on the clock. The Wolverines tied it after Aird fed Thompson inside for two with 23.7 to go.

Bernardi had a chance to win it at the buzzer for HBU but his leaning jumper fell short as the buzzer sounded, sending the game to the second extra period. Bernardi finished 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Thursday's game closes out Utah Valley's time as members of the Great West. The Wolverines will begin competition in the Western Athletic Conference next season.