LAS VEGAS -- Holton Hunsaker scored 24 points and top-seeded Utah Valley shot 70.5 percent as the Wolverines defeated eighth-seeded Texas-Pan American 83-63 Thursday in the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
The victory sends the Wolverines (20-10) into a Friday semifinal with fifth-seeded Idaho (15-17).Utah Valley used a 10-0 first-half spurt to take the lead for good and extended its advantage with a 19-1 run for a 51-26 lead at the break that would remain in double figures in the second half. Hunsaker scored 15 points over the two runs.The Broncs (9-23) had a 15-0 run -- including nine points by Shaquille Boga -- to close within 58-45 with 12:30 left before Zach Nelson steadied the Wolverines with a three-point play.Ben Aird had 13 rebounds to lead a 34-14 advantage. He became the first Wolverine to surpass 1,000 career rebounds. Mitch Bruneel added 18 points.Boga led UTPA with 21 points.
Utah (Pac-12) and Utah State (Mountain West) each scored just 39 points while being eliminated from their respective conference tournaments Thursday.
The 78 combined points scored by the Utes and Aggies were five fewer than another Utah school, the Utah Valley Wolverines (WAC), scored by themselves on the day.
The Utes & Aggies faced much tougher competitions than the Wolverines did, though. Utah lost to number-4 Arizona and Utah State was bested by 8th-ranked San Diego State, while Utah Valley played a Texas-Pan American team that was 9-22 entering Thursday.