Dec. 22, 2011
MISSOULA, Mont. -- Utah Valley battled host Montana to a 28-28 tie at the break, but a big, second-half run propelled the Grizzlies to victory, 65-52. Ben Aird scored a team-high 12 points in UVU's final pre-Christmas game.
"I was pleased with the way we competed, particularly in our comeback in the first half," said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. "We started the second half strong, but we need to be more consistent with our effort offensively and defensively in our ability to concentrate and make every possession of value."
UVU (6-8) fell behind 24-13 in the early going after a Montana (7-5) layup with 8:04 remaining in the half, but the Wolverines took over the remainder of the frame. Highlighted by the play of Isiah Williams and Alfonzo Hubbard, UVU closed out the half on a 15-4 run. The duo hit back-to-back threes to trigger the run, cutting the deficit to 24-19 with 6:02 left, and forcing a Montana timeout.
Minutes later, with the half drawing to a close, Williams intercepted a Montana outlet pass in the Wolverine zone and then drilled a deep three despite being fouled just 0.9 before the halftime buzzer. Williams would miss the free throw, but the steal and three shifted momentum to the Wolverines heading into the break.
Riding the momentum of Williams' buzzer beater, UVU scored seven of the first eight points of the second half to jump ahead 35-29 just two minutes into the second half. But Montana got a bucket from Mathias Ward, followed by back-to-back treys from Selvig and another from Jamar to recapture the lead at 40-35 with 16:18 to play.
That sequence for the Grizzlies sparked what would become a huge, 27-5 run, jumping the lead out to 56-40 just past the six-minute mark. Montana would hit two more threes during the rally, and closed out the second half shooting 60% from the field.
"Montana is a talented team," said Hunsaker. "And they will certainly contend for a Big Sky Conference championship."
Aird was the lone double-digit scorer for UVU, while Geddes Robinson finished with a game-high 10 boards. Holton Hunsaker scored nine points and Williams scored eight. Hubbard would finish with seven points off the bench on 5-for-7 shooting.
The Wolverines will take a short break for the Christmas holiday, but will resume their 2011-culminating road trip on Dec. 29, when they head to Tennessee for the Dr. Pepper Classic hosted by Chattanooga. UVU opens play that day with a matchup against Hampton at 2:30 p.m. MT time.