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Nic Turns Wolverines Inside-Out Cardinals Make Up For Lack Of Height With Defense In Win

North Idaho College made Utah Valley do things it didn’t want to do on Thursday night.

Playing adhesive defense, forcing 30 turnovers and generally turning a basketball game into a frantic track meet, NIC whipped No. 3-ranked Utah Valley 75-67 at Christianson Gym to open the Scenic West Athletic Conference season.

“Our quickness did in their height,” said NIC forward Cameron Banks, who turned an off-night into a happy ending by scoring all five of his points in the final 3:20 of the game. “I was feeling bad. I had to contribute.”

The Cardinals, shorter at every position but point guard, attacked Utah Valley throughout. Examples: Travis Houston, 6-foot-1, repeatedly driving the base line and scoring over Utah Valley’s front line of Leif Nelson (6-11), Silester Rivers (6-7) and Jacob Hawkins (6-8); Houston’s save and full-court fling that Toby Stack ran past a lumbering Nelson to retrieve near the opposite end line; and 6-4 Chris Harrison spinning and scoring on a short jumper over Nelson.

“Their defensive pressure hurt us - 32 turnovers (actually 30), no way you can win with that many,” Wolverines coach Jeff Reinert said. “This is a tough trip for us. It’s our farthest trip, even though we fly.”

Excuse Reinert if he’s finding Christianson Gym an unpleasant place. Last year, Utah Valley had already clinched the league title, but was bombed by NIC in then-coach Rolly Williams’ last regular-season home game. Reinert even bought Williams a retirement gift - a golf bag.

This year, Utah Valley came in with impressive credentials. And it appeared the Wolverines were going to make short work of NIC as Rivers, a transfer from Arizona State, scored on a post move, added a dunk and Nelson scored on a dunk for a 6-0 lead.

Rivers accumulated 20 points and 15 rebounds, but was fairly quiet in the second half. Nelson, a transfer from Nebraska who will play at Washington State next year, missed six straight shots in the second half and was benched. At one point, the burly center tried a no-look flick over his shoulder.

“Their team played with a lot of emotion,” Nelson said, “and we couldn’t match it.”

NIC trailed 32-22 when Todd Myles connected on a 3-point play. Houston had consecutive dunks to tie it at 36 and Myles canned a 25-foot 3-pointer to give NIC a 40-36 halftime lead.

NIC led by as many as 14 in the second half as the non-stop pressure pestered the Wolverines. Utah Valley closed within 67-62 before Banks chipped in with five points.

“Our kids hung tough,” first-year NIC coach Hugh Watson said. “I’m really proud of ‘em. They refused to wilt.”

Myles finished 12 points, five boards, 12 assists and five steals.

NIC (7-0 overall) entertains Salt Lake on Saturday night.

North Idaho 75, Utah Valley 67

UTAH VALLEY (9-1, 0-1 SWAC) - DeGraffenried 2-6 4-6 9, Call 0-2 0-0 0, McCoy 0-1 0-0 0, Sonnenberg 1-1 0-0 3, Hansen 0-2 0-1 0, Hallows 3-9 6-8 13, Afa 0-4 1-2 1, Rivers 9-15 2-3 20, Hawkins 4-11 4-4 12, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Nelson 4-11 1-2 9. Totals 23-62 18-26 67.

NORTH IDAHO (7-0, 1-0) - Myrick 1-8 7-10 9, Johnson 4-8 3-4 11, Myles 5-13 1-4 12, Rahming 0-1 0-2 0, Houston 7-15 1-2 15, Stack 0-2 1-2 1, Harrison 5-12 2-4 12, Banks 2-5 0-0 5, Ryan 5-5 0-2 10. Totals 29-69 15-30 75. Half- NIC 40, UVSC 36. 3-point goals - UVSC 3-15 (Sonnenberg 1-1, DeGraffenried 1-4, Hallows 1-5, Afa 0-2, Hansen 0-1, McCoy 0-1, Call 0-1), NIC 2-17 (Myrick 0-6, Myles 1-5, Banks 1-2, Harrison 0-2, Stack 0-1, Houston 0-1). Total fouls - UVSC 25, NIC 21. Rebounds - UVSC 55 (Rivers 15), NIC 29 (Harrison 9). Assists - UVSC 17 (DeGraffenried 6), NIC 23 (Myles 12). Att. - 900.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo


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