One Team All Green

The Triple Double – UVU Grinds Out a Win in First Round of CBI

Clark Clifford - UVU Athletics

OREM — It was ugly but it was a win. For the Utah Valley University men’s basketball team, that is all that matters. Despite 57 free throw attempts and two players fouling out, UVU hung on for a 92-84 win over CSU Northridge in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational on Tuesday night at the UCCU Center.

Baylee Steele recorded a double double with a career-high 19 points to go along with 16 rebounds. WAC Player of the Year Jake Toolson finished with a team-high 21 points. Isaiah White and Richard Harward both finished in double digits with 15 points apiece. Lamine Diane had a game-high 27 points for the Matadors, who nearly knocked off UVU at home. 

Here are some thoughts from Tuesday night’s game.

Steele’s Monster Night was Needed

Coming out flat footed and lethargic was not a recipe for success for UVU on Tuesday night. However, Baylee Steele brought the necessary energy and aggressiveness to keep UVU in the ball game. In fact, Steele had a 15-point, 11-rebound double double by halftime. UVU’s guards picked up the slack in the second half but it was Steele that kept UVU from losing just its third home game over the past two years. 

Jake Toolson Overcomes WAC Tourney Woes

It is safe to say that if Jake Toolson could have the two days in Las Vegas back, he would do it without hesitation. The reigning WAC Player of the Year averaged just seven points in two games against UMKC and GCU. Toolson was just 5-20 from the field and 1-12 from 3-point land in the WAC Tournament. But, on Tuesday night, despite kind of a slow start, Toolson showed flashes of why he was voted WAC Player of the Year. Toolson finished with a team-high 21 points on 6-12 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four assists. If UVU wants to go further in the CBI, it is going to need big nights from its star player.

Is the Third Time a Charm?

This is the third straight year UVU has played in the CBI. In the 2017 postseason tournament, UVU made it to the Final Four before losing at Wyoming. In 2018, UVU lost at San Francisco in the second round. Some speculated that the 2017-18 UVU squad that set a program record for wins in a season didn’t even want to play in the postseason after losing in the WAC semifinals to GCU. And now, the 2018-19 squad gets another shot at the College Basketball Invitational. With a program record 25 wins thus far, UVU has a chance to finish the season with 29 wins if they can win the CBI. For a team that was supposed to be in rebuilding mode, and despite not winning the WAC, the 2018-19 season is one of historic firsts. Will it include a postseason national tournament win? 

Next up for UVU is either Stony Brook or South Florida who play on Wednesday night. If Stony Brook wins, UVU will host another CBI game on Monday night. If South Florida wins, UVU will head to Tampa. 

 

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