UH fends off fiesty Wolverines
Alandise Harris’ relentless hustle, the sweet shooting of Joseph Young and a career night from Kirk Van Slyke brought UH an 84-71 win over Utah Valley on Monday at Hofheinz Pavilion.
“We needed a game like that,” head coach James Dickey said.
The Cougars (2-0) were tested early, as the Wolverines got out to a 10-3 lead four minutes into the first half. Young and Harris responded, combining for eight points as part of a 10-0 UH run that gave the Cougars the lead, and they never relinquished it.
“I was really proud of our team because we took their best shot, and then we responded,” Dickey said.
Harris finished with a team-and career-high 20 points and led UH with nine rebounds. Young put in 19 points on 5-12 shooting, including 4-7 from behind the arc and 5-5 from the free throw line.
Van Slyke scored a career-high 18 points and tied freshman TaShawn Thomas for the second most rebounds for UH with eight.
Not only was Van Slyke effective as a rebounder, but he also went 10-11 from the free throw line. The Cougars improved from their last outing against Grambling State to shoot 29-37 from the line.
“I thought his free throws were huge for us,” Dickey said. “I thought his defense, his offensive presence down the stretch. He’s gotten better. And we need him. He’s big and he’s physical and he can score — very good free throw shooter and he stretches the defense.”
The Wolverines were aggressive, winning the offensive rebound battle 13-11 behind senior Geddes Robinson’s 14-rebound performance, eight of which came off of the offensive glass.
“Robinson’s just relentless,” Dickey said. “He’s not big. He just goes after that.
“I challenged Jonathan Simmons after the game, ‘Who’s the better athlete? How many rebounds did he get and how many did you get?’ It’s a mindset on rebounding.”
For the second game in a row, Simmons did not put up as impressive of a stat line as he did in the exhibition win over Concordia that helped net him a spot in the starting lineup, connecting on just 2-of-6 field goals for eight points and three rebounds.
Senior Isiah Williams led the Wolverines with 19 points, 15 of which came in the first half. But the Cougars held him to 2-7 shooting in the second half.
“I thought Tip (Darian Thibodeaux), little J.J. (Thompson) and Joe all did a much better job on Williams in the second half,” Dickey said.
“I thought they made a good adjustment.”
Despite the win, Dickey would have liked for the Cougars to have closed both halves stronger and looks to continue to improve going into Friday’s matchup against Arkansas (1-0).
“I’m pleased that we’re 2-0 and getting better, and now we have a chance to go on the road and play Arkansas,” Dickey said. “We certainly need to learn from this and get better, and it will certainly be a great atmosphere on Friday night in Little Rock.”