OREM — The Utah Valley State men's basketball team defeated visiting New Jersey Tech 86-55 Thursday thanks in no small measure to a jaw-dropping offensive outburst from sophomore guard Ryan Toolson.
Coming off the bench for the Wolverines (14-7), Toolson single-handedly breathed life into a struggling UVSC offense by scoring 22 points over the final 10 minutes of the first half to help turn a one-point deficit into a 50-27 halftime lead.
"Being able to bring (Toolson) off the bench is a terrific lift, a terrific energizer for us," Utah Valley coach Dick Hunsaker said. " When I inserted Toolson into the game (tonight), he got on track and had a sensational offensive first half. That really spread the game for us."
The Wolverines trailed 13-12 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. Toolson hit five consecutive 3-pointers over a five-minute span to help put UVSC ahead, 35-20. With Toolson adding his sixth 3-pointer of the half and four free throws, Utah Valley kept up its torrid scoring pace right on into halftime for a 23-point lead at intermission.
The two teams played rather evenly for most of the second half. The Highlanders (3-17) were unable to trim their deficit below 22 points, and UVSC needed a 9-0 game-ending run to push its lead past 30 points for the first time all night.
"In the second half we came out and scrambled and were able to maintain more defensive intensity (than in the first half)," Hunsaker said.
With the Wolverines firmly in control of the game, Toolson played only six minutes after halftime and scored six second-half points to finish with 28 for the game.
"The greedy person in me of course wanted it to be a close game so I could stay in and get a couple more points," Toolson said. "But my team did great. We had a sensational game. It was a big win."
Kraig Peters led New Jersey Tech with 15 points. Sophomore power forward Nesho Milosevic added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Highlanders.
Senior forward David Heck had 13 points and eight assists for the Wolverines.