Utah Valley University wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a 75-66 win over Tennessee Tech on Saturday at the UCCU Center. UVU (6-7) built a 16-point halftime lead and rode that advantage to earn a split of the season series with TTU (7-8).
Holton Hunsaker led the way with 22 points and six assists and moved into third place all-time on UVU’s NCAA scoring list, ahead of Ronnie Price. Mitch Bruneel adding 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting, and Hayes Garrity scored 13 off the bench for UVU.
“It was a tremendous team effort tonight. I thought everybody played well and played hard,” head coach Dick Hunsaker said. “Tennessee Tech’s got a lot of athletes, a lot of depth and a lot of strength inside and I thought we did a commendable job against that athleticism.”
Keawe Enos hit his second 3-pointer early on to give UVU an 18-10 advantage midway through the first half. That bucket came during a 9-2 spurt that gave the Wolverines a 24-12 lead.
Later, with a 10-point lead, Utah Valley ran off eight straight to make it 33-15 with 6:10 left in the half. The Wolverines shot 59.1 percent (13-22) in the first half en route to a 41-25 halftime lead. Hunsaker led all scorers with 11, and Bruneel scored 10 on 5-for-6 shooting.
The teams played even for the first 10 minutes out of the locker room before Tennessee Tech scored five straight to get within 11, at 61-50, with 9:03 to go.
Jeremiah Samarrippas scored on a driving layup with 6:14 to go to get the Golden Eagles within nine, 66-57. It was the first time since the 10-minute mark of the first half the lead had been single digits.
Enos pushed the lead back into double figures on a bucket with 3:35 remaining. Bruneel and Hunsaker then both hit a pair of free throws to extend it to 15, at 72-57, with just over two minutes to go.
From there, Utah Valley held a double-digit lead until Ladon Carter scored on a tip-in in the waning seconds for the final 75-66 tally.
The Wolverines shot 53.7 percent overall (22-for-41) and hit 25-of-31 from the free-throw line (80.6 percent), with Hunsaker making 14-of-16 from the line. Tennessee Tech shot 46.6 percent (27-for-48) from the field and made just 8-of-20 from the line (40 percent).
Ben Aird blocked three shots to go along with seven points and eight rebounds while Enos finished with eight.
Utah Valley is now set to begin its first season of conference play in the Western Athletic Conference. The Wolverines travel to Bakersfield next Saturday, Jan. 4, to open the WAC season. UVU’s first league home game comes Jan. 11 against Dan Majerle-coached Grand Canyon.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.