Center Ben Aird scored 26 points to lead Utah Valley University to an 84-77 win over Austin Peay in the opening game Friday of the Dr Pepper Classic.
The Wolverines (7-8) advanced to the championship game for the second straight year by dominating the Governors (4-9) inside.
Utah Valley scored 42 points in the paint and limited Austin Peay to 18. The Governors, led by 27 points from Travis Betran, shot 12-of-25 from the 3-point line.
"We were finally able to chase them off the 3-point line, where they were amazing," Utah Valley coach Dick Hunsaker said. "We had great ball movement and kept an eye on the post. I liked our aggressiveness."
Utah Valley forward Nick Thompson recorded a triple-double with 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Point guard Holton Hunsaker scored 21 points, including 19 in the second half, and Alfonzo Hubbard added 10.
The game was tied 13 times and had 17 lead changes, the last coming with 4:53 to go when UVU took the lead for good.
Austin Peay guard Anthony Campbell scored 22 points and Will Triggs added 10. The Governors will play in the consolation game at 4:30.
"[Holton] had their focus in the first half," Hunsaker said. "Then when things were bleak, he made some plays for us."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...