OREM, Utah - The Utah Valley University men's basketball team won it's fourth game in a row to start the season Tuesday with a 82-75 win over Montana (2-3) of the Big Sky Conference.
The Wolverines won the physical battle with a 58.5 field goal percentage (24-41), 58.3 three-point percentage (7-for-12), and 87.1 free-throw percentage (27-for-31). Utah Valley also pulled down a total of 26 rebounds in the game compared to Montana's 23.
"It was really a tough, physical game," UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. "We had a very difficult time getting stops. I thought they came in with a lot of determination, and a lot of backbone in the game. We were able to muster some offense in some different ways. Toolson was phenomenal, and I though collectively we were able to rally and get a lot tougher defensively as the game went on."
Senior guard Ryan Toolson led the way again for the Wolverines with 38 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field, 4-for-5 from three-point land, and 14-15 from the free-throw line. Toolson and current Jazz guard Ronnie Price are the only players to have ever scored 38 points for the Wolverines.
Also in double figures for UVU were senior guard Josh Olsen and junior guar Jordan Swarbrick who scored 12 points apiece.
Utah Valley led Montana 41-36 at the half after shooting 73.7 percent (14-for-19) from the floor in the first 20 minutes. Toolson had 16 points to lead all scorers sho0ting 5-for-6 from the field with one three-pointer and a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. The Wolverines also outrebounded the Grizzlies 11-4 in the first half.
The second half was much more physical than the first. Toolson went to the line ten times in the final 20 minutes and scored a total of 22 points, including three key three-point buckets that slowed the Grizzlies comeback.
Montana battled from a 15-point deficit in the second half to bring the game to within two down the stretch, but Swarbrick hit two key free-throws in addition to Toolson's play late to keep the Grizzlies from ever tying the score or taking the lead.
Montana was picked to finish second in the Big Sky Conference in the pre-season polls.
The Wolverines will play at America East opponent Binghamtom Saturday at 12 p.m. MT in the team's first road game of the season.