Pioneers Melt in Second Half Loss to Utah Valley, 85-88

Photo: Denver wilts in 2nd half to fall to 1-2

The Pioneers came out on fire shooting 72% from the field in the first half and 73% from the arc to take a commanding 54-33 half-time lead into the dressing room. Daniel Amigo had 16 points followed by C.J. Bobbitt with 11 and Jake Pemberton with 9. The Pioneers had their inside out game going and looked to be cruising to victory over the Utah Valley Wolverines.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. 

The Pioneers accumulated bunches of personal fouls in the first half which continued well into the second half for a total of 28. In the second half, Utah Valley extended their defensive pressure – pulling their defense out on DU’s guards and doubled Daniel Amigo – and started pulling back into the game. The Wolverines pressure led to a particularly tough turnover-plagued run in the second half when DU gave up the ball without a shot on five consecutive possessions.

Joe Rosga’s 18 points in the second half kept Denver close but they could not match Utah Valley’s momentum and defensive intensity. Once Amigo hit four personal fouls and Christian Mackey had 3, UV kept pushing the ball into the interior for point-blank shots to shake Denver’s defensive confidence..

Two players did most of the scoring damage for the Wolverines. Big guard Kenneth Ogby had 28 points and guard Jordan Poydras chipped in 23 from the bench. Daniel Amigo had 21 points and 12 rebounds but cooled significantly in the second half. Joe Rosga finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds with a strong second half.

Denver had a whopping 23 turnovers and 10 missed free throws (63%). Utah Valley had 15 turnover and 9 missed free throws (72.7).  DU’s bench was outscored 28-12. Denver had the slight edge in rebounds 33-30. Denver shot 58.8% from the field for the game to 48.3% for Utah Valley but the accuracy went the Wolverines way in the second half.

After the game, an obviously disappointed Rodney Billups said, “We have a turnover problem…It’s a learning experience. This one hurts – this one hurts. I have never heard a group of opponents celebrate so loud in the hallway. Whatever team came out of that locker room (the second half) was not Denver basketball.”

Now the Pioneers hit the road for a tough 7-game stretch.