OREM — The University of Missouri Kansas City rode a hot wave of three consecutive wins into Orem and cruised to a 61-51 victory over an uninspired Utah Valley team Thursday night.
Utah Valley turned the ball over 18 times and was unable to do much of anything against a physical group of Roos defenders who imposed their will. On the other end of the floor, the Wolverines allowed 13 offensive rebounds, resulting in 10 more shot attempts than UVU.
“Obviously, you can’t give that up and expect to be able to win the game,” UVU head coach Mark Madsen said. “Sometimes we had a great initial possession of defense, but it’s only great if you get the rebound and if you’re able to go to the other end of the court and execute a play.”
It was a tie game for most of the first half, right up until Kansas City’s Jordan Giles drained a 3-pointer and Javan White threw down a put-back dunk. The Roos led by just 5 points at the time, but Madsen sensed a momentum shift and called a timeout.
“The message was, we have to get the 50-50 balls and we have to rebound the ball,” Madsen said. “We weren’t able to execute the things we needed to to stop that tide.”
The timeout did nothing to quell the lackadaisical defense, however, and Kansas City continued its 11-0 run, part of a 14-5 swing to end the half on a sour note for the Wolverines.
They were able to cut the deficit to under double digits briefly in the second half, but to no avail. Kansas City expanded its lead to nearly 20 points and was never pressed by a confounded UVU team that didn’t look interested in giving full effort at times.
“We started the game with decent energy; we were fighting, we were battling,” Madsen said. “There’s always emotion on senior night and obviously we wanted to channel that energy into playing a great basketball game. That didn’t happen.”
The loss wraps up the regular season for UVU after Chicago State decided to cancel its road trip out West to play Seattle and UVU amid concern over the COVID-19, or coronavirus. It marked the end of a disappointing first season for Madsen, overall. But, upon closer inspection, UVU has shown a lot of promise following former coach Mark Pope’s departure to BYU and the bare cupboard Madsen was dealt when Pope took three of UVU’s best players with him across town.
The Wolverines have lost 11 games this season by 6 points or fewer and have played good basketball against the best teams on their schedule. UVU put a scare into then-No. 9 Kentucky on the road and nearly pulled off an upset of perennial WAC champs New Mexico State.
After an eighth place finish in the WAC regular season, UVU will now prepare for the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas, which will begin next Thursday, March 12.