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UVU advances to WAC semifinals after 83-63 win

LAS VEGAS (ABC 4 Sports) - Utah Valley University is two wins away from its first bid to the NCAA Tournament after beating Texas-Pan American in the WAC Tournament quarterfinals, 83-63.
LAS VEGAS (ABC 4 Sports) - Top-seed Utah Valley University set a new WAC Tournament record by shooting 70.5 percent from the field in an 83-63 win over Texas-Pan American in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday at the Orleans Arena. The Wolverines will face No. 5 seed Idaho on Friday at 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT. The Vandals defeated Kansas City, 73-70 in the second quarterfinal of the day.

The Wolverines (20-10) also set a school record by hitting 80 percent of their shots (20-for-25) in the first half, a new program Division I mark, in building a 51-25 first-half lead. Ben Aird also had 13 rebounds in the game and became the first UVU player to surpass 1,000 career rebounds.

“We played a terrific half of basketball," said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. "Give Texas-Pan American credit they came out and fought which I anticipated them doing. They played their hearts out in the second half, scrambled the game to make it competitive and interesting.”

Holton Hunsaker finished with 24 points and Mitch Bruneel added 18 on a perfect 8-for-8 from the field for UVU, which is ranked 25th in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll. It’s the first time the Wolverines have been ranked in that poll in program history.

Utah Valley was 31-for-44 from the field for the game and also shot 10-for-15 (57.9 percent) from the free throw line.

Both teams connected from the field early; the Broncs were 9-for-15 and the Wolverines 9-for-13 and the game was tied at 20 midway through the opening half.

From there the Wolverines embarked on a 10-0 run, which eventually grew to a half-ending 31-5 run.

During a stretch that ended the first half and began the second, UVU made 11 straight field goals including five 3-pointers. Hunsaker and Bruneel each hit two from beyond the arc and Taylor Brown made the other.

UTPA made a push in the second half, using a 15-0 run to climb within 13, 58-45, with 12:30 left. Shaquille Boga, who lead the Broncs with 21, hit a three to make it a 12-point game, 63-51, at the 8:53 mark. A 9-2 UVU spurt, capped by a Hayes Garrity 3-pointer, pushed the margin back to 19.

Hunsaker scored his 24 points on 7-for-13 shooting including 4-of-7 from three. He also had seven assists. Keawe Enos scored 12 points, Garrity scored nine and Zach Nelson added seven points and six assists.
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