SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Facing an upset bid, Lorenzo Bonam kept hearing one mantra in his head.
”Be poised. Make the right play,” the senior point guard told himself.
Down the stretch, Bonam made a trio of clutch plays on Tuesday night to help Utah surge past Utah Valley 87-80. He also made one teammate’s dream come true.
Van Dyke grew up near the Huntsman Center and came to countless games as a fan.
”It was a really special moment for me individually and just a great overall play,” Van Dyke said. ”Lorenzo made a great pass and trusted me to knock it down. I’ve seen a lot of games like that as a fan — it comes down to the wire where a Utah player hits a big shot.”
Kyle Kuzma had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Utes (6-1), who ended the game on a 12-2 run. Bonam and Rawson each contributed 14 points.
Isaac Neilson had career-highs of 28 points and 15 rebounds for Utah Valley (5-3). Jordan Poydras, who had four 3-pointers, added 21 points on 8 of 12 shooting.
”Our guards did a wonderful job at getting to the gap and I found myself open and getting the ball at the right time,” Neilson said. ”All I really have to do is focus on catching the ball and putting it in the hoop.”
Conner Toolson made a 3-pointer after a Nielson offensive rebound and Brandon Randolph made a shot in the lane to give Utah Valley a 78-75 lead with 2:04 to play.
The Utes, who have been a poor 3-point shooting team (29 percent on the season), made 10 of 22 long-range attempts.
The Wolverines typically launch more than 30 3-point shots a game and were pressured off the line by the Utes, but often found lanes to drive and kick to Neilson for layups. Utah transfer Kenneth Ogbe and Toolson are UVU’s leading scorers, but combined for just eight points in the game.
In a scheduling anomaly, Utah Valley is the only in-state opponent for Utah this season. Last year, Coach Larry Krystkowiak bought out the Utes’ previously scheduled visit to BYU.
The Wolverines led early in the game but the Utes scored 12 points off first-half turnovers and held a 41-36 edge at intermission.
Utah: Next week the Utes hope to have transfers David Collette and Sedrick Barefield, who are expected major contributors, eligible to play. Besides their lone loss to then No. 18 Butler and their looming matchup with No. 13 Xavier, the Utes have feasted on lower-level competition at home. The games, which were mostly blowouts, have given the young roster a chance to gel and gain experience.
Utah Valley: The Wolverines, who beat BYU 114-101, were close to another major in-state upset before the late fade. UVU shot 49 percent and had 19 assists, and seem primed for a stellar season in the Western Athletic Conference.
”When Parker took that 3, I had a weird vision – because I knew the kid grew up in Salt Lake and watching the Utes all his life with his grandpa – and I thought, `Man, he’s due.’ And as the ball is in the air, I just flashed back to all the times he probably watched other players years ago do those same things and it was pretty neat seeing it go in. He earned it,” Krystkowiak said.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Utah shot 12 of 13 from the line in the second half, including eight straight from Zamora. The junior made four in the final moments.
Utah will play its first road game of the season on Saturday against No. 13 Xavier on national television.
On Saturday, the Wolverines continue their local battles as they host Utah State.
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