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UVU Checks Off a Pair of Firsts with Win at Seattle Tuesday Night

Clark Clifford - UVU Athletics

For Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope, coaching the Wolverines has generated a lot of firsts. UVU got its first-ever win over crosstown foe BYU. The Wolverines got their first-ever win at New Mexico State. UVU recorded its first-ever postseason national tournament win when it beat Georgia Southern on March 15, 2017 in the College Basketball Invitational. Pope’s Wolverines played at Kentucky and Duke for the first time ever. Under Pope, UVU also recorded the most wins in program history when the Wolverines went 23-11 in 2017-18

On Tuesday night, UVU recorded a pair of firsts under Mark Pope. The Wolverines got their first win in the Pacific Northwest under Pope with a 77-68 win over the Redhawks at the Redhawk Center. With the win, it marks the first time in program history that UVU has had back-to-back 20-win seasons as UVU improved to 20-8 overall and 9-4 in WAC play. 

“We’d never won up here and this was not a pretty game, but I’m proud of our guys and how they hung in there and kept battling to come up with the win,” said Pope. “This is our third game on short notice and that’s a great job by our guys. This league is so deep so we need to keep playing better and maintain our discipline and we’ll be able to do some special things.”

Jake Toolson had a game-high 25 points on 8-12 shooting. Big man Richard Harward recorded another double-double against Seattle with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Remember that Harward played his first significant minutes against Seattle back on Jan. 12 in Orem. Harward had a 12-point, 15-rebound double-double in that contest to help UVU come back from 20 points down to beat Seattle, 88-78. Since that time, UVU has won 8 of its last 10 games including four straight since losing 84-77 at New Mexico State on Valentine’s Day.

Conner Toolson was also in double figures with 11 points while Ben Nakwaasah dished out five assists on the night. UVU was also 21-28 at the free throw line. This proved to be the difference as Seattle was just 10-14 from the charity stripe.

43 combined wins over the last two seasons is the most in a two-year span in UVU history. 

Next up for the Wolverines is a trip Riverside, California to take on California Baptist on Saturday night. It’s a huge game for the Wolverines. UVU is in a tie with Grand Canyon for the 2-seed at the WAC Tournament in two weeks. Grand Canyon hosts CSU Bakersfield on Saturday. The ‘Lopes travel to Orem next Thursday to take on UVU in the UCCu Center.

There are two more things that Pope and the Wolverines would like to check off the list of firsts. The top priority is winning the WAC Tournament and going to the Big Dance. The second priority is to beat Grand Canyon at GCU Arena. 

Either way, the trend of checking off firsts at UVU continues under Pope. The innovative head coach has UVU overachieving in a season that was supposed to be a rebuilding year. 

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