OREM — The Utah Valley State men's basketball team defeated visiting Western Illinois 82-69 Tuesday for its second straight victory.
"I thought we came out and we played hard, played with a lot of tenacity defensively," UVSC coach Dick Hunsaker said. "I thought we worked very hard on the defensive end of the court. It was a good team effort."
Senior center Ben Devoe led the Wolverines (2-2) with 21 points, eight rebounds, and four blocked shots. Many of Devoe's points came as a result of timely entry passes from guards Sylvester Allison and Chris Bailey.
"(Allison) was finding me really well along with all the other guards," Devoe said. "Because (Western Illinois) was pressuring the guards so much, getting up on the ball, it left the basket open. And coach is real big on going right to the basket."
Western Illinois (1-1) took a 6-2 lead in the opening minutes. Utah Valley, though, went on a 19-1 run to seize control of the game and go ahead 21-7. The Wolverines would lead by at least nine points the rest of the game.
UVSC forward Matt Peterson scored nine points during the 19-1 run, including a four-point play where he got fouled while making a 3-pointer.
The Wolverines led 37-25 at halftime.
The Leathernecks cut the UVSC lead to nine points at 42-33 early in the second half. The Wolverines responded with a 24-10 surge, taking their largest lead of the game at 66-43.
For the night, UVSC shot 52 percent from the field while holding Western Illinois to a 42 percent mark.
Peterson finished with 13 points, while Allison and Tika Wesley each scored 11 for the Wolverines. But it was the play UVSC got from Devoe that was the game's main story line.
"Ben's doing a better job of demanding the ball inside and establishing post position," Hunsaker said. "But there is still a lot to be desired with his aggressiveness in establishing a low post presence. But again, this was certainly a positive step in that direction and getting our team to look for him better."
Western Illinois forward Fred Oguns led the Leathernecks with 21 points. David Jackson added 19 for Western Illinois, with 13 of his points coming in the second half.
UVSC travels to Pocatello this weekend to face Idaho State at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.