Utah Tech has been playing awesome. Before this loss to Idaho they were on a three game winning streak and had started 2-0 in conference play for the first time in the WAC.

Here's the press release from UT Athletics Media Relations: (full link)


(St. George, Utah – Dec. 9, 2023) Trailblazer men's basketball played Saturday night, falling 63-62 to the Idaho Vandals at Burns Arena. With the result, Utah Tech now holds a 5-4 record with a road matchup at CSUN scheduled for Monday night.

"I'm just frustrated," Head Coach Jon Judkins said. "I thought our defense was solid, we held them to 29% shooting in the second half, but tonight was about effort - they just wanted it more than we did until the end of the game when we battled, but then it's too late. Give Idaho credit, they battled and played extremely hard."

Tanner Christensen was in a groove early against his former school, scoring each of the Trailblazers' first seven points, which included an and-one and strong two-handed flush. After an emphatic block from Hamed Olayinka resulted in a wide-open corner three that Aric Demings drained off a feed from Beon Riley, Utah Tech held a 13-10 lead with 13:48 remaining in the first half.

After a Jaylen Searles triple and Noa Gonsalves layup extended the lead to seven, Idaho got hot from deep, connecting on four-consecutive triples to fuel a 15-3 run that culminated in a 27-22 lead at the 6:24 mark. Christensen continued to produce offensively, however, finishing through contact with another two-handed dunk before a late Jaylen Searles bucket paved the way for a three-point deficit at halftime; Idaho led, 38-35.

Utah Tech came out rolling early in the second half, out-scoring the Vandals 13-3 heading into the under-16 media timeout, a run that continued into a 19-4 stretch. Demings got hot from the field during that run of play, scoring 11 of the team's points during that run before a Noa Gonsalves three-pointer put the Trailblazers ahead, 56-45, with 10:04 on the clock.

The Vandals would not go down easily, however, using a number of offensive rebounds to respond with a 14-4 run that saw Tanner Christensen score at the 7:26 mark; Utah Tech would not score again until the final two minutes, with the Vandals holding a 63-60 advantage.

That scoring drought would end when Hamed Olayinka connected on a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to a single point with 1:19 to play. After a number of defensive stops in the final minute Gonsalves drew a foul to put the ball in Utah Tech's possession with 9.2 seconds remaining on the clock. Though the Trailblazers would create multiple opportunities with a scramble in the final seconds that drew a loud response from the crowd, Utah Tech was unable to find the points it was looking for, and the game went final at 63-62 in favor of Idaho.

Christensen would finish with his second double-double of the year, combining 18 points (7-10 FG) with 10 rebounds and two assists, while Demings' strong outing culminated in a line of 16 points (7-8 FG, 2-3 3PT), one rebound and four assists. Beon Riley paired 10 points with five rebounds, while Gonsalves scored eight. Olayinka pitched in four points, three rebounds, one block and one steal.

As a team Utah Tech assisted on 17 of its 22 made shots, shooting 46.8% from the field, 8-22 (36.4%) from deep and 10-14 (71.4%) from the line, grabbing 30 rebounds and using the combination of two blocks and one steal to force 10 Vandal turnovers. With 12 points off turnovers and 24 points in the paint, neither team scored a point in transition.

Trailblazer men's basketball returns to action on Monday, facing CSUN on the road. Tipoff in Northridge is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT on Monday.

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