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OREM — In the end, it was the start that doomed Utah Valley.
Dejon Davis had 19 points and 17 rebounds, and Brandon Boyd added 14 points and six assists to help Cal Baptist jump out to a big lead early and hold on to beat Utah Valley, 65-61 Wednesday night in the UCCU Center.
Isaiah White had 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Wolverines (9-14, 3-5 WAC), and Brandon Averette scored 14 for Utah Valley.
TJ Washington supplied 6 points and 10 assists for the Wolverines, who lost for the fifth time in the last eight games.
"We came out and played uncharacteristically of ourselves in the first half. I was really proud our guys in the second half," UVU coach Mark Madsen said. "But we have to be better, 1-15; the players; myself; the coaches. We all have to be better, and we will. But that was a game that was winnable tonight, and we let it slip it away. We need to have better starts."
Brandon Morley’s layup capped a 15-0 run that helped the Wolverines turn a 38-24 halftime deficit into a 1-point game, down 40-39 with 15 minutes remaining.
But the Wolverines never took the lead, trailing for all but the first 37 seconds of the game, while shooting just 35.7% from the field in the first half to fall behind by as many as 16 points. UVU finished shooting just 43.1% from the field, but made just 1 of 7 second-half 3-pointers. Even so, UVU had a chance in the closing moments.
The Wolverines held Cal Baptist without a field goal for 3:12, trimming the deficit to 63-61 on Averette’s jumper with 56 seconds remaining. But the Wolverines could get no closer.
It was the first game for Madsen since the death of Kobe Bryant, his longtime teammate with the Los Angeles Lakers. It's been an emotional four days for the artist formerly known as "Mad Dog," but the first-year college coach didn't make any excuses for the loss.
"It’s been hard, because I never expected to hear on Sunday that one of my teammates died the way he died," Madsen said. "That's been hard. But we’ve had great moments, too. The practices have been awesome.
"It’s impacted a lot of our players, too. But we had some great days in practice and just came out a little bit flat."
Cal Baptist improved to 15-6 on the year, including a 5-2 mark in the Western Athletic Conference, second only to New Mexico State in the league.
"We need to get over this hump and win a game like this. That’s part of our growth," Madsen said. "We’ve got a week and a half off, so we can put in some hard work in preparation for the next phase of the conference."