Men's Basketball
Big First Half Powers Utah Valley Over Highlanders

Kraig Peters finishes with 1,179 career points

Feb. 23, 2008

Box Score

OREM, UT - Utah Valley poured in 49 first-half points, making more than 60 percent of its shots in the half and the Wolverines went on to a 76-50 win over visiting NJIT in the men's basketball season finale for the Highlanders Saturday afternoon.

The victorious Wolverines built a 24-point halftime lead and then outscored NJIT by two points over the final 20 minutes. The win lifted Utah Valley back to .500 with a game remaining, while NJIT was thwarted in its final opportunity for a win.

Utah Valley junior guard Ryan Toolson, a leading candidate for Division I Independent Player of the Year, led all scorers with 22 points, while hustling senior forward Jordan Brady picked up 16 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and game-high five steals. Junior point guard Josh Olsen added 13 points--all in the first half.

NJIT had one double-figure scorer, senior captain Kraig Peters, who scored 13 points and finished his career with 1,179 points, good for 14th on the NJIT career scoring list.

Freshman Paulius Skema closed his first college season with a career-high seven rebounds to lead the Highlanders on the boards against Utah Valley, which had a slim 33-31 team rebounding advantage.

The most telling team statistic in the outcome was a 29-4 advantage in points off of turnovers for the Wolverines. At halftime, that number stood at 18-2 for Utah Valley, which built a 49-25 halftime lead, all but assuring a Wolverine win.

NJIT scored first on a three-point basket by Tyler Epps 26 seconds into the game, but hot-shooting Utah Valley quickly grabbed a 16-6 lead after Toolson's bucket at the 14:17 mark.

The Wolverine lead grew to 15 points, 25-10, when Brady hit two free throws with 11:18 left. Brady went to the line on the third foul against Nesho Milosevic, who was forced to the bench for the rest of the half.

Milosevic, NJIT's top scorer this season, had scored a career-high 27 points in the Highlanders' first game against Utah Valley, an 81-69 Wolverine win on February 2. But he went to the sidelines with two points, having made his only shot in the nine minutes before he was tagged with his third foul.

Down by 15 and with their best scorer on the bench in foul trouble, the Highlanders got a lift from senior Courcy Magnus, who nailed a three-pointer within seconds of entering the game, sparking a 7-0 run that continued with a pair of free throws by Peters and another basket by Magnus that cut Utah Valley's lead to 25-17 with 8:57 left in the half.

But the Wolverines dominated the rest of the half and claimed an overwhelming 49-25 halftime lead on the power of 62 percent field goal shooting (18-29), including 7-for-12 (58 percent) on three-pointers.

Olsen shot 4-for-5 from three-point range in the half, but perhaps no play typified Saturday's first half, not to mention much of NJIT's difficult season, more than a 35-foot heave by Toolson that found the bottom of the net ahead of the first-half buzzer.

Toolson, who came in averaging close to 24 points per game, was relatively quiet for most of the first half, scoring only five points in the first 18 minutes. But he scored all seven of his team's points in the last two minutes, including the long-range buzzer-beater.

The hot finish left Toolson with 12 points, a point behind backcourt mate Olsen's 13, while Brady also had 12 points. Toolson also had seven assists and three steals in the opening 20 minutes.

Having scored Utah Valley's last seven points of the first half, Toolson kept his hot hand by scoring its first seven points of the second half.

But the Wolverine star, who stayed on the court for all 40 minutes, scored only three points the rest of the way, including none over the last 8:25 and Utah Valley scored 27 second-half points, a big dropoff from the 49 it tallied in the first half.

Trailing by 24 points at halftime, the Highlanders outscored the home team, 17-10, in the first 10:33 of the second half, pulling to within 17 points of the lead, 59-42, after Jheryl Wilson's twisting layup with 9:27 left. NJIT did not get closer.

Peters and Magnus closed out their careers, as did backup post player Kyle Edwards.

Milosevic, a junior, finished as NJIT's season leader in scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg). The two-time national Division I Independent Player of the Week had an exceptionally strong last month of the season. Saturday's foul-plagued finale halted a string of three straight double-doubles, but in seven February games, Milosevic posted 121 points (17.3 ppg) and 70 rebounds (10 rpg).

The third and fourth-leading scorers on the season were freshman guards Justin Garris and Jheryl Wilson, who each averaged 7.1 points per game. Wilson was the team leader in assists (68), while Garris' 38 steals led the team. Another freshman, point guard Tyler Epps, started 14 of the last 16 games from December 30 on.

Sophomore Dan Stonkus led the team with 49 blocked shots, raising his career total to 90, fourth on the NJIT career list.


New Jersey Institute of Technology Men's Basketball
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