Poor shooting and turnovers doomed the Utah Valley men’s basketball team on Senior Night.
The Wolverines made just 3 of 12 from beyond the arc and coughed up 18 turnovers in Thursday’s 61-51 loss to Missouri-Kansas City at the UCCU Center.
“We started the game with decent energy,” UVU coach Mark Madsen said. “We were battling, we were fighting. There was a stretch where UMKC outrebounded us. We gave up nine offensive rebounds in the first half. You can’t give that up and expect to be able to win the game. We had far too many turnovers, so consequently we were not getting shots in those possessions. They outshot us by 10. We need to address that, work on those things and get back to the level that we’ve been playing at.”
Isaiah White scored 13 points and J.J. Overton had 12 for the Wolverines. Brandon McKissic led Kansas City (8-7 WAC, 16-14 overall) with 18 points. Jordan Giles (14) and Franck Kamgain (10) also scored in double figures.
Former BYU guard Jahshire Hardnett, who left the school as a graduate transfer last spring to join the UMKC program, played 24 minutes and contributed two points (1 of 7 from the field), four assists and two steals.
UVU (5-10, 11-19) played good defense early, holding UMKC without a field goal for more than six minutes but was having its own issues finding a way to score. The Wolverines led 21-20 after a 3-point play by Isaiah White and the score was tied at 23-all after Overton scored with 5:22 to play.
An 11-0 run for the ‘Roos — bookended by 3-pointers from Giles and Rob Whitfield — got the visitors out to an 11-point lead, 34-23, with 2:45 remaining in the half. A rebound basket by Brandon Morley brought UVU to within nine, 37-28, at halftime.
UMKC opened the second half with a 11-3 burst, pushing their lead to 48-31 with 13:45 to play. Utah Valley scored eight straight points — a 3-point play by Morley, a 3-pointer by Brandon Averette and a speedy fast break basket by T.J. Washington — to trim the ‘Roos lead to nine, 48-39, with 10:45 remaining.
“Give UMKC credit,” Madsen said. “They play an aggressive style of defense that resulted in the fact that we didn’t move the ball as much,” Madsen said. “We had too many possessions where we didn’t move the ball and we probably took some quick shots. We need to get back to moving and sharing the ball, realizing that when you make that first pass it will come back to you later in the possession if we execute our stuff and move the ball.”
Thursday was the final regular-season home game for four UVU seniors: Washington (Tulsa, Oklahoma), Emmanuel Olojakpoke (Houston, Texas), Morely (South Jordan, Utah) and Bradley Kitchen (Springville, Utah).
This was our last home game and I’m very proud of the season we’ve had, not withstanding the injuries and the adversity we’ve had,” said Madsen, who is in his first year as head coach. “This was not the outcome we wanted. We need to get back at it, address some things and get ready to play in Las Vegas.”
UVU will compete in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, which begins at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on March 12. The Wolverines season finale on Saturday was canceled by Chicago State due to travel concerns surrounding the coronavirus.