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UVU basketball: Utah Valley opens season with 92-69 loss at No. 13/14 Gonzaga

Utah Valley junior forward Isaac Neilson (left-center) puts up a shot against Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski (right-center) at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane.
Utah Valley junior forward Isaac Neilson (left-center) puts up a shot against Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski (right-center) at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane.
UVU Athletics

Conner Toolson scored a game-high 19 points and Kenneth Ogbe added 13 to lead Utah Valley in a 92-69 season-opening loss to No. 13 Gonzaga on Friday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Washington.

Gonzaga (1-0) knocked down its first three shots of the game to take a quick 8-0 lead just 30 seconds into the game. The Bulldogs then capped off a 9-0 run on a Jordan Mathews 3-pointer to extend the lead to a 28-13 advantage with 8:54 remaining in the opening half.

Utah Valley (0-1) responded with a 12-2 run on back-to-back threes by Toolson and Ogbe to cut the Gonzaga lead to just five points, 30-25, with six minutes to go in the half. It would be as close as UVU would get as Gonzaga went into the break with a 45-32 lead.

The Zags opened the second half with an 8-2 run to take a 19-point, 56-37 lead. The Wolverines got as close as 14 points, 69-55, at the 9:34 mark but couldn't get any closer as Gonzaga out-scored UVU, 23-14, during the final nine minutes to secure the 92-69 win.

"Gonzaga is really good and they are really deep," Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope said. "They will have a great year. They are ranked No. 13 for a reason and I have lots of respect for them. With that said, I'm really disappointed with our team tonight. We're a better team than this. We have to do a much better job than we did tonight. I thought our guys competed and we played hard but we didn't play very smart. We just need to play better and we will."

Toolson led all scorers with 19 points. The sophomore guard connected on 7-of-12 shots from the field, including a 4-of-7 clip from long range. He also tallied three assists and pulled down a pair of rebounds in 28 minutes of play. Ogbe scored his 13 points on 3-of-6 shooting, including two shots from three.

Isaac Neilson was also in double figures with 10 points. The junior forward knocked down 4-of-9 shots, including one shot from beyond the arc. Neilson led the Wolverines with seven rebounds. Zach Nelson scored nine points, while Brandon Randolph helped with seven. Randolph also added six rebounds.

Gonzaga out-rebounded UVU, 51-31, on the night and out-scored the Wolverines, 42-24, in the paint. Utah Valley committed only 11 turnovers, while forcing the Zags into 16.

Silas Melson led the Bulldogs with a team-high 17 points, while Mathews helped with 16.

Next up for Utah Valley is a Nov. 16 matchup with regional rival Idaho State in the team's home opener at the UCCU Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT.

Jason Erickson works in the communications office at the Utah Valley University athletic department. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.