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UVU basketball: Nelson’s perfect night lifts UVU over Bethesda, 106-44

Zach Nelson hits a shot in UVU's win over Bethesda.
Zach Nelson hits a shot in UVU's win over Bethesda.
Marcella Olsen, UVU Athletics

Zach Nelson shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, including a 3-of-3 clip from 3-point range, to lead the Utah Valley University men's basketball team to a 106-44 win over Bethesda on Thursday night at the UCCU Center.

The Wolverines improved to 7-4 on the season with the victory and have now won seven of their last nine games.

"There were some things I was really pleased with tonight. I was really pleased with Zach's solid performance and I was pleased with some of our guys' decision making. I also liked our 35-13 assist-to-turnover ratio," said UVU head coach Mark Pope. "I felt like my guys tried to compete defensively and communicate, so it was good. Everyone got through this game healthy and uninjured, so now we move on to a huge game that we have on the road."

Every player that saw minutes for UVU scored, including Mckay Johnson who notched the first points of his Wolverine career. Utah Valley set a school record for made field goals in a game with 43 and set a record for most points scored in a home game with 106. The 106 points are also a UCCU Center record, topping the previous high of 103. The 62-point victory was the third largest in school history. UVU's 35 assists are also a school record over the previous record of 29.

The Wolverine defense got off to a solid start as Jake Toolson and Akolda Manyang combined for three blocks in the first two minutes of the game. On the offensive end, a pair of dunks from Manyang helped fuel a 9-2 run to open the night for UVU.

In his first start of the season, Nelson opened the game by hitting two threes and finishing a three-point play to help Utah Valley jump out to a 22-5 lead midway through the opening half of play. Nelson also added two assists during the opening stretch.

An 18-0 run during a six-minute stretch helped the Wolverines to take a 45-23 lead into the break. Bethesda went on a short 7-0 run to narrow the gap slightly. Nelson led UVU in scoring on the half by adding four more points to his total for 13 in the half on a perfect 5-of-5 clip from the field.

Jake Toolson added 11 points for Utah Valley and pitched in four rebounds. The Wolverines were balanced on the boards in the first half as seven of the eight players that saw time in the period grabbed four or more rebounds. Brandon Randolph led the way with seven rebounds in addition to six points and four assists. Manyang finished the half with three blocks.

A 16-0 run that began just minutes into the second half aided UVU in putting the game away early. The Wolverines also pulled off runs of 14-1 and 11-2 later in the half.

Nelson's perfect shooting night produced 18 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Jake Toolson scored a game-high 19 points, and Conner Toolson finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Manyang ended his night with 11 points and eight rebounds.

As a team, Utah Valley won the battle on the glass, 61-22, and forced 16 turnovers on eight steals. The Wolverines also outshot Bethesda on the night with a 57.1 percent clip compared to a 25.8 percent mark for the Flames.

UVU will now make the trip to Honolulu to take on Hawaii on Sunday, Dec. 17. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MST, and the game can be watched live on Big West TV. Live radio will also be available for listening on ESPN radio 960 AM. Following the contest with Hawaii, UVU will return home for a matchup with Montana Tech on Wednesday, Dec. 20.