Aziz Bandaogo Takes Over Late, Utah Valley Advances To WAC Semifinals

Mar 9, 2023, 9:07 PM | Updated: Mar 10, 2023, 11:56 am

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – The best three-point shooting team in the WAC, Utah Valley nailed seven triples to beat the Tarleton Texans 72-58. With the win, UVU advanced to the WAC semifinals on Friday night.

The #2 Utah Valley Wolverines (25-7, 16-3) faced the #7 Tarleton State Texans (17-16, 9-10) in the quarterfinals of the 2023 WAC Tournament.

The Wolverines won the WAC regular season title but entered the tournament as the second seed due to the conference seeding system. Utah Valley suffered their only home loss of the season in a 77-58 Texans victory in late February.

The Texans advanced to the quarterfinals with a 74-70 win over UTRGV on March 7.

RELATED: WAC Tournament Brackets, Schedules Released For 2022-23 Season

Justin Harmon led UVU with 21 points. Trey Woodbury had 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Aziz Bandaogo finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Jakorie Smith’s 12 points led the Texans. Shamir Bogues added 11 points in the loss.

First Half

Both teams made three of the first seven shots with Utah Valley taking an early 8-6 lead into the first media timeout. Two Trey Woodbury threes led the way.

At one point, Tarleton missed six of seven shots but UVU didn’t capitalize, making two shots of their own during the stretch.

RELATED: Utah Valley Closes Regular Season In Impressive Fashion Against Lumberjacks

Justin Harmon hit the Wolverines third shot from deep to give them a 19-13 lead with eight minutes left in the half.

Minutes later, UVU took their largest lead of the night after Harmon stepped in front of a bad pass. Le’Tre Darthard finished on the other end with a short floater to give Utah Valley a 23-15 lead and force a Tarleton State timeout.

Late in the half, consecutive baskets from Tarleton’s Tiger Booker cut the Wolverines lead to four at 29-25.

Utah Valley too a 34-27 lead into halftime.

Woodbury led all scorers, making 3-of-4 threes for 13 points. Booker and Shakur Daniel led the Texans with six points apiece.

Second Half

Tarleton scored the first four points of the half but Woodbury answered with his fourth three to keep UVU in front 37-31.

Woodbury scored the first seven points of the half for Utah Valley.

An old fashioned three-point play from Shamir Bogues got Tarleton within 41-38 with less than 15 minutes to play. The Texans scored 11 points on six UVU turnovers in the first six minutes of the half.

RELATED: Utah Valley Clinches Top WAC Spot With Win Over Arlington

With Utah Valley clinging to a one possession lead, Harmon bullied his way to the basket for a layup. The free throw put UVU up 46-40 with 12:17 to play.

A 6-0 Wolverine run was fueled by stifling defense down the stretch. Tarleton nine of ten shots, allowing UVU to build a 52-43 advantage with 8:38 to play.

Utah Valley continued to pull away with big man Aziz Bandaogo taking control on both ends. Bandaogo had been limited to one point before he exploded for four above the rim finishes. On the defensive end, the WAC Defensive Player of the Year blocked three shots on one possession as Tarleton desperately tried to fight back.

UVU went on to win 72-58.

Up Next

Utah Valley will face the winner of #3 Southern Utah vs. #11 Utah Tech in the WAC semifinals on Friday, March 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. (MT).

Utah Valley Wolverines

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Aziz Bandaogo Takes Over Late, Utah Valley Advances To WAC Semifinals