EL PASO, Texas – Trey Woodbury knocked down the go-ahead three and Utah Valley held on down the stretch to defeat WAC-rival New Mexico State, 69-66, at Eastwood High School in El Paso, Texas.
Woodbury scored nine of his 15 points in the final five minutes of the game to help the Wolverines move to 8-8 on the season and 6-2 in WAC play. The Aggies fall to 5-6 on the year and 2-5 in conference play.
"I'm so incredibly proud of our guys with the way they played." said Utah Valley men's basketball head coach Mark Madsen. "Jamison Overton gave everything he had, Jaden McClanahan was a wizard in the pick and roll with finding seams and angles. It's an emotional game and what I love about this team is how much they care, and that showed tonight."
New Mexico State came out firing, scoring the game's first eight points to take an 8-0 lead with 17:22 to go in the first half. A Jamison Overton dunk got the Wolverines going as UVU went on a 9-1 run to tie the game up at 9-9 with under 15 minutes to play in the opening half. After an Aggie three gave NMSU a four-point lead, Le'Tre Darthard hit a pair of threes to lead Utah Valley on an 8-0 run to give the Wolverines a 19-15 lead with 10:57 to go in the half.
The teams would go back and forth before a pair of layups by Overton and bucket by Fardaws Aimaq pushed the UVU lead to 29-22 with 3:04 to go in the first half. Overton hit a free throw with 18 seconds left in the half to give the Wolverines a six-point lead but a late UVU foul at the buzzer gave the Aggies a pair of free throws to cut the Utah Valley lead down to 33-29 going into the break.
New Mexico State used a 9-4 run to start the second half to retake the lead, 39-38 with 15:57 to go in the game. After Evan Cole hit a layup and an emphatic dunk to regain the lead for the Wolverines, NMSU went on a 9-2 spurt to take a 47-43 lead with 9:40 to go in the second half. UVU got back in the game with a 6-0 run before both teams went back and forth as the Aggies held a 58-57 lead with 4:08 to go.
Coming out of the media timeout, the Wolverines got a stop and Aimaq found an open Woodbury at the top of the key for the go-ahead three, giving UVU the lead for good at 60-58 with three minutes to go in the game. After Jaden Mcclanahan split a pair at the charity stripe, the Wolverines survived three shots from deep by NMSU before Aimaq cleared the board. Woodbury knifed through the lane and got the and-one layup to go and the free throw to give UVU its largest lead of the game, 64-58, with 1:19 remaining.
With the Wolverines clinging to a 67-65 lead, Aimaq split a pair of free throws to extend the lead to three points with 14 seconds to go in the game. After a Woodbury foul gave NMSU three foul shots, the Aggies hit the first and missed the second, setting up an intentional miss to try and get the ball back. New Mexico State successfully got the rebound on the missed free throw and got a look from three for the go-ahead shot, but it was not good as Aimaq grabbed another rebound with 2.4 seconds remaining. Aimaq extended the lead to three with a free throw and the Aggies turned it over on the full-court heave and the Wolverines escaped with the victory, 69-66.
Overton led the Wolverines with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. Cole added 15 points to go along with seven rebounds and Woodbury chipped in 15 points and four assists. Aimaq grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds to go along with six points and five assists.
Utah Valley shot 57 percent from the field while holding the Aggies to just 38 percent from the floor. UVU owned the paint, outrebounding NMSU 40-31 and outscoring New Mexico State 36-24 in the paint. With the win, coach Madsen has now defeated every team in the WAC in just his second season at the helm.
"We know they are going to be hungry and ready and we're going to continue to battle and scrap and do what we do," said Madsen. "Our communication and our rotations were good on defense and we'll need that same effort tomorrow night."
The Wolverines square off with the Aggies in the rematch on Saturday, Feb. 20, in El Paso, Texas. The game is set to tip at 7 p.m. MT and will be broadcast live on the WAC Digital Network and on ESPN 960 AM. The Wolverines return home for its final homestand of the season against UT Rio Grande Valley in the UCCU Center on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26-27. Both games are set to tip at 6:00 p.m. MT.