ST. GEORGE — An ugly win still counts and the Trailblazers are 1-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.

Utah Tech men’s basketball team pulled ahead in the second half of a low-scoring, foul-filled contest and beat in-state rival Utah Valley University 65-53 Saturday night at Burns Arena.

Three Trailblazers scored in double-digits as the home team (4-3, 1-0 WAC) withstood a physical battle against the Wolverines (5-3, 1-1 WAC).

“Very huge,” junior guard Noa Gonsalves told St. George News outside the home locker room after the win. Gonsalves led all scorers with 18 points.

Utah Tech’s Beon Riley works against Utah Valley in a WAC basketball game, St. George, Utah, Dec. 2, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

“We have momentum going into conference now,” Gonsalves added. “It’s huge for us.”

Gonsalves started slow, along with the shooters from both teams as the players struggled to adjust to a slow paced game that was stopped by frequent foul calls.

“Started 0 for 4 or something like that,” Gonsalves said. “Teammates trusted me always, and I just got to get them up and shoot the ball.”

Utah Tech took a 23-22 lead into halftime. Starters Jaylen Searles, Tanner Christensen, Beon Riley, Aric Demings and Gonsalves matched the Wolverines’ defensive intensity and both squads struggled to make shots.

Back-to-back second half scores by Gonsalves and Riley put Utah Tech ahead by five and the Trailblazers nursed that into a bigger lead with foul shots, then knocked down a couple of 3’s at the end to pull away.

Gonsalves was 4-of-9 from 3-point land to lead the Trailblazers.

Riley sank his only 3-point attempt and went 8-for-11 from the free throw line, finishing with 17 points. He also snared a team-high 13 rebounds.

Big man Tanner Christensen, opposite UVU 7-footer Trevin Dorius for much of the game, netted 10 points for the winners.

“We’re figuring things out,” Gonsalves said. “Guys are figuring out their roles and we’re starting to figure things out.”

Caleb Stone-Carrawell was the high man for UVU with 15 points. Southern Utah University transfer Drake Allen scored 14 for the Wolverines and Tanner Toolson scored 10 in the losing effort.

Utah Tech goes back on the road Wednesday, Dec. 6 against California Baptist, then plays again at Burns Arena 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 against the University of Idaho.

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