WAC season has arrived; Wolverines open at Bakersfield

Ben Aird

Jan. 3, 2014

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Utah Valley and Bakersfield will make history on Saturday as the teams meet in their Western Athletic Conference opener at 7 p.m. PT at Rabobank Arena. Saturday marks the WAC opener for two programs which both announced they would enter the conference Oct. 9, 2012. The schools both officially became WAC members on July 1, 2013.

“It’s an exciting night for both schools,” UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. “With it being the first WAC game, I’m sure there will be a tremendous amount of energy from both teams.”

UVU (6-7) will play three of its first four games in league play on the road, opening next weekend (Jan. 11) at home against against Grand Canyon.

Holton Hunsaker scored 22 points in a win last Saturday over Tennessee Tech, moving him into third place on the all-time scoring list ahead of Ronnie Price. Hunsaker trails Ryan Toolson and current teammate Ben Aird. In addition to Hunsaker’s scoring night, UVU got 16 points from Mitch Bruneel and 13 from Hayes Garrity in earning a season split with Tennessee Tech.

The Roadrunners have won two out of their last three and are 7-7 overall including 4-1 at home.

“Bakersfield is another in the long list of athletic, pressure, defensive-oriented teams that we have faced and will continue to face in conference. We have a lot of respect for them and know we’re really going to have to match their physicality,” Hunsaker said.

Issiah Grayson leads the team with 13.9 points per game with Javonte Maynor at 9.5 and Brandon Barnes at 8.9 per game. Both teams have fathers coaching their sons with Barnes the son of CSUB head coach Rod Barnes and Holton Hunsaker at UVU playing for his father. There’s another player/coach element with Bakersfield’s Tyrell Corbin. While he doesn’t play for his father, his dad is Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin.

CSUB owns a 5-3 series lead all-time over Utah Valley and swept two games last season. The Wolverines are 1-3 in four games in Bakersfield, winning the first-ever meeting between the programs on Jan. 19. Saturday’s game marks the fourth time the teams will meet at Rabobank Arena with the other road contest on campus at the Icardo Center. UVU and CSUB have split four games at the UCCU Center.

Bakersfield and Utah Valley will not only open the WAC regular season with one another but close it out as well, on Friday, March 7 in Orem.