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UVSC fights back to beat scrappy Westminster

Westminster's Brandon Sholly is fouled as he attempts to get off a shot.
Westminster's Brandon Sholly is fouled as he attempts to get off a shot.
Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News

OREM — The Utah Valley State men's basketball team defeated visiting Westminster College 81-72 in an exhibition game Tuesday.

The shortest and tallest Wolverines — 5-foot-10 guard Sylvester Allison and 6-foot-10 center Ben Devoe — each scored 18 to lead UVSC.

"Westminster is scrappy," Wolverines coach Dick Hunsaker said. "I think they're a terrific exhibition team to play and test your guys against. They came in, and this was a special moment for their guys."

UVSC went ahead 10-4 in the early going, but then 13 in a row from the Griffins made it 17-10. Westminster stretched its lead to 11 points at 23-12.

The Wolverines, however, came back by going on a 22-4 run over the final 10 minutes of the first half. Over that span, UVSC didn't allow the Griffins a field goal.

"Anytime you fight back from a double-digit deficit, I think that's a good sign," Hunsaker said. "I think that's a quality sign because you've got to fight back defensively. There's a myth "you don't come back on offense; you come back on defense."

At halftime, the Wolverines led 38-31.

Westminster fought back to tie the score early in the second half at 42-42. Consecutive three-pointers for UVSC by Matt Peterson and David Heck put the Wolverines back ahead 48-42. The Griffins trailed the rest of the way.

Sophomore guard Danny Reeder missed a free throw for Westminster that would've tied the score at 60-60, and from that point on Allison scored eight points to propel UVSC to the nine-point victory.

"There are some good things we'll take from this and some things we'll definitely try to correct," Griffins coach Tommy Connor said. "I thought we gave a great defensive effort, and defensively we were very sound. We competed, and we played at a competitive level, and that was good to see."

NAIA All-American Jared Ruiz led the Griffins with 19 points. Ruiz shot 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, but was just 2-of-11 on all his other field goal attempts.

Nick Booth added 18 points and seven rebounds for Westminster.