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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Utah Valley University was edged in the first of two meetings against Tennessee Tech, 74-71, on Saturday at the Eblen Center. The teams will face off again in Orem on Dec. 28.
The Wolverines (2-4) got 18 points from Hayes Garrity and 16 from Mitch Bruneel while Jeremiah Samarrippas scored 20 to lead the Golden Eagles (5-4).
The game was tied at 67-67 with with 3:03 to go before Bruneel hit a pair of free throws to give UVU a 69-67 advantage. Dwan Caldwell, who scored 18, converted on a bucket and a free throw to give TTU the lead with 1:10 left before Bruneel scored on a feed from Ben Aird to put the Wolverines back on top on the next possession.
"Give Tennessee Tech credit. They threw a lot of different defenses at us and scrambled us and kept their composure with the various runs we threw at them," said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker.
Samarrippas hit a pair from the line with 46 seconds left to give the Golden Eagles the lead and Shirmane Thomas hit two more before Zach Nelson's game-tying attempt rimmed out. Tennessee Tech scored its final five points from the free-throw line.
Like the score, statistically the game was nearly identical: UVU shot 52.2 percent (24-for-46) while TTU hit 53.2 percent (25-for 47). The Wolverines had 26-25 edge on the glass and both teams were 16-for-22 from the line.
Tennessee Tech converted on 8-for-14 from the 3-point line - Samarrippas was 4-for-5 and Jordan Johnson was 3-for-3 - with Utah Valley hitting 7-of-17. Keawe Enos was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and finished with 13.
The Wolverines trailed by as much as 11 in the first half but were able to close within four, 36-32, by halftime. Down 10 with just under four minutes left, Bruneel hit a 3-pointer from the corner that jump-started a 13-6 run to end the half. He knocked another three to make it a 34-28 game with 2:04 to go.
Nelson then closed the half with back-to-back buckets, the second coming with just one second before the first-half clock expired. Enos hit his second 3-pointer of the game early in the second half, giving Utah Valley its first lead of the game, 39-38, with 16:31 left.
With the game tied at 46-46 with just over 12 minutes remaining, Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers and Josiah Moore converted on a layup and free throw for a quick 9-0 TTU spurt.
The Wolverines worked themselves right back in: Enos hit another three to cut it to four and later a put-back by Nelson tied it again, at 59-59, with 5:55 left in the game.
Garrity gave UVU a 63-62 lead following a steal and a layup and after the game see-sawed again, hit a free-throw line jumper to make it 65-64 Wolverines. After a stop on the defensive end, Enos gave UVU a 67-64 advantage on a layup but that was answered by Samarrippas' fourth three, setting up the final three minutes.
The Wolverines will travel and play the final of five straight road games on Monday at the University of South Dakota on Monday. Tip is set for 7 p.m. CT/6 p.m. MT from the DakotaDome.