LAS VEGAS — UVU had played Seattle University on Senior Night five days earlier, but it may as well have been Round 2 on Thursday as the Wolverines followed the lead of their upperclassmen to earn a 65-53 win over the Redhawks in the WAC Tournament quarterfinals at Orleans Arena.
Senior guard Jordan Poydras led the way for UVU (15-15), scoring 15 points and adding four rebounds and three assists as the Wolverines extended their winning streak to four games.
Senior guard Ivory Young (11 points) came off the bench and provided a key offensive spark on an otherwise dismal shooting day for both teams. Senior center Andrew Bastien got a rare start and scored five points while logging a game-high 10 rebounds, including three on the offensive boards.
Their contributions, along with 10 points and six rebounds from junior guard Brandon Randolph, helped the No. 4-seeded Wolverines earn their first win in WAC Tournament play since 2014. It sets up a semifinal matchup with top seed Cal-State Bakersfield on Friday at 7 p.m. MST.
“We’ve struggled at times, on and off the court,” Poydras said of playing with his fellow seniors. “The whole journey’s been fun. Before the game, I told everybody that I’m not ready for it to be over with. … That’s why I went out and played so hard.”
UVU shot 36.7 percent in the game, cooling after a hot start and shooting just 26.9 percent in the second half. The Redhawks weren’t much better, hitting 39.3 percent of their shots from the field and 32.1 percent in the second half.
Poydras helped UVU get off to a strong start offensively, adding nine points in the first half as the Wolverines held a slim 32-30 lead at the break. Bastien came up big in the first 20 minutes when he grabbed eight of his rebounds. The senior helped UVU own a 13-0 edge in second-chance points, as the Wolverines outrebounded Seattle 46-26.
Both teams struggled with their shots coming out of halftime, but Young finally broke the Wolverines' slump. After UVU hit only one of its first 14 field-goal attempts to start the second half, Young drilled a 3-pointer with 9:38 to play to put UVU up 45-41. He added a second three less than a minute later to make it 48-41.
“I was just trying to knock some shots down,” Young said. “My teammates have a lot of faith in me. … We played really good defense after that, which was the key.”
While Seattle (13-17) responded with a triple from Matej Kavas, Young and Randolph combined for a counter soon thereafter. With 6:21 to play, Randolph stole the ball, spun past his defender and hit Young for a fastbreak layup to put UVU up 51-44.
Randolph added a driving layup two possessions later to give UVU a nine-point lead at 53-44 with 5:04 to play, and the Wolverines extended their lead to as many as 12 points down the stretch.
William Powell scored 16 points to lead Seattle in the losing effort, while Brendan Westendorf and Kavas added 14 each. Kavas hit a game-high three 3-pointers.
The Wolverines owned advantages in other statistical categories as well: sophomore guard Hayden Schenck had five steals, as UVU held an edge in points scored off turnovers (22-13) and had 12 steals to nine for Seattle. The Wolverines’ bench also outscored the Redhawks’ 30-18.
There will be things to improve upon in the semifinals. UVU turned the ball over 19 times and struggled with free throws before finishing 23 of 35 from the stripe.
For now, though, UVU can breathe, knowing it’s extended its season. Cal-State Bakersfield swept the Wolverines in the season series and the Roadrunners won the WAC Tournament last year, earning the league’s automatic NCAA bid.
“I think we’re all looking forward to it, and that’s with a lot of humility. This Bakersfield team is a special team,” UVU coach Mark Pope said.