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UVU basketball: Utah Valley defeats Idaho State in home opener, 82-73

Utah Valley's Conner Toolson (right) knocks down at free throw against Idaho State on Wednesday night at the UCCU Center. UVU defeated ISU, 82-73.
Utah Valley's Conner Toolson (right) knocks down at free throw against Idaho State on Wednesday night at the UCCU Center. UVU defeated ISU, 82-73.
Jay Drowns, UVU Marketing

Conner Toolson scored a career-high 23 points and Isaac Neilson recorded a 14 point, 12 rebound double-double to lead the Utah Valley University men's basketball team to an 82-73 win over Idaho State on Wednesday night in front of 6,117 fans at the UCCU Center.

The 6,117 fan total is the largest crowd for a home opener in UVU history and is the highest attended game at the UCCU Center since the matchup with Utah State on Dec. 13, 2014, that produced 6,121 fans. Wednesday night's game marks the seventh highest attended game in UVU history.

"First of all, I mean how fun was this gym tonight," Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope said. "This place was a really special college environment tonight. We had a lot of people on campus working really hard to help make this happen, and it made this gym really fun. Hopefully we'll keep going. We want to grow every year and involve more people. So that was the first thing, the crowd really helped us tonight."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/VXTebkGFGyYThe first half produced nine ties and eight lead changes as the two teams went back and forth with neither team taking more than a five-point lead. Trailing by four points, 35-31, with 1:46 remaining in the half, UVU's Kenneth Ogbe and Toolson hit back-to-back threes to help the Wolverines take a 37-35 lead into halftime.

A Brandon Randolph layup and a pair of Ogbe free throws gave the Wolverines a six-point lead, 41-35, to open second half play. ISU battled back with a 9-2 run to take its own six-point lead, 50-44, at the 14:25 mark. Trailing 58-56 with 8:51 remaining, UVU went on a 14-4 run to take a 70-62 lead with five minutes to play. The Wolverines held on to the lead during the final minutes to secure the win.

Toolson scored his 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, including a 3-of-7 clip from beyond the arc and a 6-of-8 mark from the charity stripe. The sophomore guard also pulled down eight rebounds with three steals, one block and an assist.

Neilson connected on 5-of-7 shots on the night and knocked down 4-of-6 free throws for his 14 points. Ogbe recorded his second-straight double-digit game of the season with 17 points. The junior guard knocked down 5-of-8 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers. Ogbe also tallied three rebounds, two steals and a pair of blocks.

Randolph and Jared Stutzman were also in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Randolph hit four shots from the field and was a perfect 4-for-4 at the charity stripe. He also dished out a team-high four assists. Stutzman connected on 4-of-5 shots from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 mark from long range.

"I told my staff before we came out on the floor tonight, all I want is I want our team to be better when we walk off this floor than when we walked on, and man they were better when they walked off. We struggled for the first 25-27 minutes to find how we compete, to let the ball kind of freely move and for guys to move. And then this group of Ivory Young and Jordan Poydras helped us move the ball and Hayden (Schenck) stepped up and advanced the ball and they came in and got the ball moving a little and made a couple great hustle plays. Then everybody else who followed them onto the floor, kind of kept it going. I was proud of our guys. We're better; we're better than we were three hours ago."

As a team, Utah Valley shot 43.5 percent (27-of-62) from the field, including 11 made shots from long range. The Wolverines held Idaho State to a 39.4 percent (28-of-71) clip from the field. The two teams each pulled down 45 rebounds on the night.

Ethan Telfair led Idaho State with a game-high 25 points. Geno Luzcando helped with 20 points, while Novak Topalovic added 15 points with a game-high 16 rebounds.

Utah Valley continues play at home on Saturday against Benedictine (Mesa). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN 960 AM radio. A live stream of the game will be available on UVU's website.

UVU basketball: Utah Valley defeats Idaho State in home opener, 82-73

Head coach Mark Pope and player Conner Toolson discuss UVU's 82-73 win over Idaho State.

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