Utah Valley
Justin Harmon and Utah Valley host Cincinnati on Wednesday night in the NIT quarterfinals. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Utah Valley Advances, Lancers are Champs and More WAC Hoops News

The postseason for the WAC has been rather impressive. Eight WAC teams got to play in a postseason tournament. Two of those teams actually played each other for a postseason championship. The California Baptist Lancers held on to beat New Mexico State in the WBI Championship on Sunday. Utah Valley set to host arguably the biggest game in program history. And it goes on and on.

In other news, GCU was ousted from its second appearance at the NCAA Tournament on Friday. The Lopes had a six-minute scoring drought in the first half against Gonzaga. It was all the Zags needed to put the Lopes away. GCU actually covered the spread in the 12-point loss.

The Southern Utah women’s basketball team saw its impressive season come to an end. In South Bend, Notre Dame jumped out to a big lead early and the T-Birds never recovered in their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. Tracy Sanders’ squad won a program-record 23 games en route to the WAC regular season and tournament titles.

Despite a 30-point effort from Freddy Hicks, Tarleton fell in its first-ever postseason tournament. Hicks also had 11 rebounds but Radford was able to get the 72-70 win, ending the Texans season. Tarleton finished 17-17 overall but managed to pick up a win in its first-ever WAC Tournament game on March 8 over UTRGV.

There are three other teams still alive in the postseason. Two men’s teams and one women’s team.

CBI: Southern Utah vs. Rice – Noon MT

Less than a week after the T-Birds fell in the WAC Tournament Championship, Southern Utah chose to go play in the CBI. However, the T-Birds would be heading to Daytona Beach with a new interim head coach. Todd Simon left Cedar City to take over the head coaching position at Bowling Green. Associate head coach Flynn Clayman took over as interim head coach. And the T-Birds used a big second half on Saturday to knock off North Alabama, 72-50.

Now, the T-Birds get the Rice Owls on Monday afternoon. Rice is coming off an 84-78 win over Duquesne on Sunday. The Owls are 19-15 overall and finished 8-12 in Conference USA. This game should be a high-scoring affair as the T-Birds love to put up points. SUU is 23-12 overall, just two wins shy of tying the program record of 25 wins set in 2000-01.

Four T-Birds were in double figures in the win over North Alabama. Jason Spurgin had a team-high 16 points. Cam Healy came off the bench to knock down five 3-pointers, finishing with 15 points. Tevian Jones had 14 points. Drake Allen had 12 points. Spurgin also pulled down 17 rebounds in the win.

The game is on FloHoops so you can watch it if you have a subscription.

WNIT: SFA at Arkansas – 7 p.m. CT SEC Network

The 27-win Ladyjacks are hoping to make it 28 wins when they travel to Fayetteville to face the Razorbacks on Monday night. Mark Kellogg’s crew lost to CBU in the WAC semifinals but got an at-large berth to the WNIT. In the opening game, the Ladyjacks jumped out to a big lead early and the had to hold off a furious rally by Texas State in the 89-79 win in Nacogdoches on Thursday.

Can Jordan Harrison, Aiyana Johnson and company go into SEC territory and pull out a win? The Ladyjacks already have wins over Boston College and Arizona State this season. Why not add another Power 5 team to that list? The Razorbacks are 22-12 overall and are coming off a 22-point win over Louisiana Tech on Thursday.

SFA freshman guard Jordan Harrison and the Ladyjacks are looking to knock off SEC foe Arkansas on Monday night. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

NIT: Utah Valley 81, Colorado 69

Take away a 15-minute stretch in the WAC semifinals, and it might be safe to say Utah Valley is red hot right now. The Wolverines have won five of the last six games. All five of the wins have been by double figures. And at the time, Utah Valley led by 23 over Southern Utah before falling apart in the WAC semifinals. However, the Wolverines have responded with back-to-back road wins to open the NIT. On Wednesday night, Justin Harmon went for 32 points. Sunday night in Boulder, Trey Woodbury went for 25 points.

Both wins were by nearly identical scores. Utah Valley won 83-69 at New Mexico. And as you can see, on Sunday, it was nearly the same score. The Wolverines shot nearly 61 percent in the second half in Boulder.

Perhaps the biggest stat was at the free throw line. Utah Valley did not shoot a free throw in the first half. And it wasn’t until about 90 seconds left in the game, that Utah Valley shot its first free throws of the game. Justin Harmon and Le’Tre Darthard combined to go 6-6 from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the win.

Now, the Wolverines are set to host an NIT quarterfinal game on Wednesday. Utah Valley will host Cincinnati on Wednesday night for a chance to head to Las Vegas for the NIT semifinals next week at Orleans Arena.

Is Jason Hooten Heading to the Land of Enchantment?

There was a report Sunday night on Twitter that it was a matter of signatures regarding Jason Hooten heading to Las Cruces. The Sam Houston head coach has been one of the names thrown out as a replacement for Greg Heiar at New Mexico State. This new tweet comes out hours after the Bearkats fell at North Texas in the NIT second round.

Hooten just completed his 13th season in Huntsville. The Bearkats are coming off a 26-win season, tying it for most wins in program history at the Division I level. Hooten’s squad was in the top-60 of the NET all season long and earned the top-seed at WAC Vegas.

Will Hooten leave Huntsville for the Land of Enchantment? Considering both Sam Houston and New Mexico State will be in Conference USA in 2023-24, it would create quite the talking point.

Keep an eye on this as other sources have been telling WAC Hoops Digest that Hooten is going to be an Aggie.

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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