Power forward Isaac Neilson and guard Conner Toolson scored 19 points apiece Saturday night as the Utah Valley Wolverines rallied down the stretch for an 88-80 victory over UTSA.
In a game played at Orem, Utah, the size of the home team proved to be the difference as the Wolverines won the rebounding battle with ease, 55-29.
Akolda Manwang, a 7-foot, 240-pound center, pulled down 14 rebounds for the Wolverines. Neilson, at 6-11, added 12. The Roadrunners’ two big men are only 6-8.
Despite being over-matched in the paint, the Roadrunners rallied from a 16-point, first-half deficit and surged into a 57-47 lead with 12:47 remaining.
From there, the Wolverines answered with a 16-2 run to re-gain control.
“Second half was a bunch of runs, both ways,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “We came out and played the right way for the first couple of possessions, got the ball to go in the hole pretty easily.
“They responded. Not surprised. You know, good team. Veteran team, and they just made the tougher plays all night long, and that was the key to it.”
Guard Keaton Wallace led UTSA with 21 points. Deon Lyle and Nick Allen scored 13 apiece for the Roadrunners (5-4).
The Wolverines (5-3) continued to show improvement after two early losses to powerhouses Kentucky and Duke.
The Roadrunners play Monday night in Norman, Oklahoma, against the Oklahoma Sooners.
Henson worked as an assistant at Oklahoma for five seasons before taking the UTSA job in 2016.