The UMKC men’s basketball team secured a win on Saturday night against the reigning regular season WAC champions, Utah Valley Wolverines, 66-59. The win moved the Roos into second place in WAC conference standings.
Following a disappointing loss on Thursday night against Grand Canyon, 78-57, the Roos came back eager for a win.
Defense was the player of the game and UMKC held its opponent to under 70 points for the ninth time in ten games. The team forced Utah Valley into 15 offensive mistakes.
“We defended in the second half, desperately and with discipline, which we talked about coming in,” Head Coach Kareem Richardson said. “You have to make a few outside shots against a team like that, and fortunately we did.”
The Roos shot 44-percent from the three-point line, with sophomore Martez Harrison knocking down four of his own. Harrison and Reese Holliday led the Roos in scoring with 17 points a piece.
UMKC opened the game with a strong 11-3 run and kept the lead until the final minutes of the first half. Even then, the Wolverines led the game by only one point going into the second half.
Holliday came out strong in the second half, giving the Roos a 34-32 lead. But he didn’t stop there. Holliday helped the Roos go on a 16-2 run over six minutes of play. With three minutes left to play, Harrison hit a 27-foot three pointer giving the Roos an 11-point lead, all but sealing a win.
When the buzzer sounded with a Roos lead, it was the first time ever the team won playing against Utah Valley in Orem. They also won their first road WAC game of the season.
The strong defensive outing was a different story than the loss against Grand Canyon on Thursday. With a first half filled with defensive blunders and weak rebounding, the Roos got down early in the game. UMKC never led in the game, but made a strong comeback in the second half. Unfortunately, the margin was too wide to overcome.
The Roos return to Kansas City this week to face off against Texas-Pan American (8-14, 2-4) to wrap up the first round of WAC play. Historically, the Roos are 5-9 against Texas-Pan American overall, but have a 4-4 record playing in Kansas City.Thursday night’s game will be played at Municipal Auditorium and tipoff will be at 7:05 pm.