Toolson leads UVU to win over UTSA

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OREM — Conner Toolson was coming off his worst game as a Utah Valley Wolverine. Toolson scored just eight points and was 0-for-4 from 3-point range in a loss to Washington State on Wednesday night.

However, Toolson scored seven of UVU's first 13 points in the first half, then proceeded to scored 14 points in a span of 4:04 to start the second half and finished with 29 points to help lead the Wolverines to a 75-71 win over UT-San Antonio on Saturday night at the UCCU Center.

"It was fun," Toolson said. "It was good to bounce back from a loss. We just wanted to come out with an aggressive mentality, and I felt like we did that."

Toolson hit his first jumper of the game and followed it up with a layup to put UVU up 4-0. He hit his first 3-pointer of the game at the 14:25 mark and got a tip-in off a missed jump shot by Hayden Schenck that gave UVU a 15-10 lead with 13:08 to play.

"I just got a lot of opportunities and took every opportunity that I had," Toolson said. "Luckily, they were going in."

Trailing 36-34 at the beginning of the second half, Toolson decided to take over. Back-to-back layups followed by a 3-pointer from the Salt Lake Community College transfer gave UVU the lead at 39-36. He went on to score seven more points on a 3-pointer and two more layups that gave UVU a 49-41 lead with 15:56 to play.

From there on, the game went back and forth before the Wolverines were able to seal the win by converting four straight times from the charity stripe. University of Utah transfer Kenneth Ogbe and true freshman Joonas Tahvanainen went 4 for 4 from the line to give UVU the win.

"Unbelievable win, guys," UVU head coach Mark Pope said. "Like a really, really, really great win for us. I knew this was going to be so hard. We're in shootaround today, and my guys are trying to be locked in, but you could see it on their faces that they're emotionally just spent. That's what happens when you have the biggest comeback in the history of the school and three days later you go on the road and play a Pac-12 team and have to try and comeback from being down by 21. Three road games will do that to you … so the fact that we could come home and beat a team that's playing really, really hard is a big deal for us."

Ogbe and Schenck both finished in double figures for UVU with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Although he only scored two points in the contest, Pope was proud of guard Brandon Randolph for finishing with nine rebounds and eight assists.

UVU improved to 5-2 under the second-year head coach and now goes into the biggest week of the non-conference schedule. The Wolverines travel to Salt Lake City to take on Utah Tuesday night and follow that up with a Saturday afternoon matinee in Orem against Utah State.

"We're definitely excited, especially for the Utah game," Toolson said. "UVU hasn't really been a force in this state, ever really. We're trying to make a difference. So we're going to go up there and give it the best shot we have. We beat BYU, so hopefully we can come with the same energy and the same mentality … and be able to surprise some people."

Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs and the Utah Valley University Wolverines. He is a communication major at UVU and will graduate in the spring of 2017. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias

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