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.

8 thoughts on “Pioneers Melt in Second Half Loss to Utah Valley, 85-88”

  1. These are some of the the lumps DU will take this year. Hearing opponents whoop it up in their tunnel should make their blood boil a bit and make them more resilient.

    This team needs to learn how to defend home court and it starts with mental toughness. Turnovers are sometimes caused by great play by the opponent, but in DU’s case tonight, many of the 23 were unforced turnovers that came from a lack of focus. They really don’t have a playing senior to lean on, so the juniors need to step up and hold on to the ball to create team poise. Billups and his staff need to be active and encouraging as they work through this painful, awkward growth phase.

    All that said, this team has the talent level to play very well as they showed in the first half. Amigo had the first half of his career tonight, and could be a post presence that DU has not had since Yemi Nicholson years ago…Having a true post player takes some of there pressure off the three ball shooters .

    Keep the faith. This year will have some games like that as they adjust to a whole different way to play.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amigo did look fantastic in the first half, just spectacular touch on those little floaters. He missed some free throws pretty badly towards the end, but it looked to be from exhaustion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Man, painful loss last night. It was certainly a tale of two halves. DU cruised through the 1st half, everything was great, and the 2nd half turned into a grease fire. Pios were sloppy with the ball, seemed to lose some poise, and UV made them pay. I’m sure that game, while most will probably want to forget about it, will serve as a valuable lesson and learning experience for players and coaches. It’s a journey.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Brutal loss. DU was unable to adjust. No excuses, this may be a relatively young team, but their top 7 guys all have at least a year of experience under their belt. Good players step up. Okay, onto Eastern Washington.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not good…getting in the road for two quick games may be the best thing. Playing fast is going to take time and lead to turnovers until they get more comfortable.


  5. Interesting to note that Utah Valley just won at BYU, I’m not seeing a point spread but kenpom had Utah Valley losing by 24 with a 1% chance to win.


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