The WSU Cougars picked up their fourth win of the non-conference season when they held off a late charge by Utah Valley to defeat the Wolverines, 83-76.
Freshman point guard Malachi Flynn was the leader, as he has been over the past few games, scoring 27 points on a blistering 11-of-14 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range while chipping in 7 rebounds and 3 assists against just 2 turnovers.
WSU had a huge first half, leading 49-31 at the break. The Cougs had shot 15-of-24 on 2s and 5-of-10 on 3s to sprint out to the big lead; as usual, it was only nine turnovers that kept the margin from being even bigger.
Flynn had 15 points in the opening period on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting, and the WSU defense did a pretty good job of limiting a Utah Valley offense that scored 114 points in regulation on the road against BYU on Saturday — the Wolverines didn’t find a ton of room to operate, including on the perimeter, where they generally do their damage.
But as these Cougars are wont to do, they couldn’t sustain the defensive effort for an entire game, and UVU climbed back into it behind their excellent perimeter shooting.
The Cougars took a 19-point lead early in the second half at 57-38 on a Charles Callison jumper. But UVU continually chipped away at the lead, first getting it under double digits with just about eight minutes to go, then closing to within three points with 1:16 remaining in the game. All told, the Wolverines had outscored WSU 36-20 over 15 minutes of game time.
Then, it looked like disaster might be imminent: On the ensuing possession, Flynn had his pocket picked around halfcourt by Brandon Randolph, who streaked in for the dunk to close to within 77-76.
Derrien King took the next shot, which he missed, and it appeared that it was serious butt pucker time. But Josh Hawkinson swooped in out of nowhere, cleaned up the rebound, and put it back in to push the margin back to three.
UVU missed an open 3 then picked up the offensive rebound but missed another 3 and Flynn grabbed the rebound. The Cougs hit their free throws to hold off the Wolverines for good.
Hawkinson finished with 12 points and 17 rebounds. King scored 13 and Callison scored 11.