OREM -- Weber State overcame double-digit deficits in both halves but couldn't shake off enough rust to finish it off as Utah Valley held on for a 62-59 victory Tuesday at the UCCU Center.
Woods Cross High product Holton Hunsaker led UVU with 14 points and Hayes Garrity added 13, including two free throws with six seconds left to provide the winning margin. Zach Nelson had 12 for the Wolverines (4-5).
Weber State senior guard/forward Davion Berry scored a game-high 20 points but missed a long 3 close to the buzzer and didn't have time to corral the rebound for a second try.
Down 60-59, the Wildcats had a shot to take the lead after Hunsaker missed the front end of a one and one. Berry drove the ball to the lane but lost it as a pair of Wolverine defenders corralled him.
Weber State (1-4) was forced to foul then and Garrity iced both attempts to seal the win.
'Cats coach Randy Rahe said the Wildcats got what they were looking for, just not the bucket.
"We wanted the ball in Dev Berry's hands. We ran them off the ballscreen, which he'd been real effective in all night," Rahe said. "We wanted him to take something to the basket, maybe draw contact, get to the foul line, get something going. Dev did what we asked him to do. He got a lot of attention. He could have got a shot up, he tried to dump it off and it just didn't work out."
Berry thought he saw an opening to pass, but he didn't try to pass the buck.
"I went down (the lane and) two people were drawn to me. I tried to look at Joel (Bolomboy)," he said. "As I was passing it to him, he was going up for the rebound. That's on me. I've got to get it up to the rim and let the guys go chase the ball. Full blame on me."
WSU leads the all-time series 4-3 but has never won in Orem in three tries. The last time the two teams played at Utah Valley was in 2005.
Playing their first game since Nov. 30 due to the cancellation of last week's game at UT Arlington, the Wildcats started cold.
"That's not an excuse," Rahe said. "Utah Valley beat us tonight. I thought they did a nice job, did exactly what they thought they were going to do -- they're tough, they're very physical, they executed their stuff really well -- but I did feel like we were really out of sync. I thought we were out of rhythm.
"I felt we were very, very uncomfortable out there. Twelve days off is tough. When you don't play games, it's hard. We've had a 10-day layoff and now we've had a 12-day layoff. It is what it is, but I'm glad we had a game tonight," Rahe said.
The Wildcats fell behind by as many as 11 but made a push midway through the second half, taking its first lead of the game on a Royce Williams 3 with 11:25 to go.
"We got the stops and the few rebounds that we needed to put ourselves in position. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game going down the stretch, but they basically made one more play than we did," Rahe said.
Berry refused to use the long layoff as an excuse either.
"That can't be our mindset going into the game. If that's the mindset, we're screwed up," Berry said. "We've got to come out with a passion and a fire how we did in the second half and just form it into a whole game, play as a team."
Weber State shot 38.0 percent overall, including 7 of 20 (35 percent) from beyond the arc. The Wildcats were also outrebounded 43-35 and have been outrebounded in every game this season.
Only Berry finished in double figures for Weber State. Bolomboy had nine points and eight rebounds, but WSU's second-leading scorers, tied at 12.3 points per game coming into Tuesday, combined for seven points. Kyle Tresnak had eight boards but just three points and freshman Jeremy Senglin had four points.
Bountiful High product Ben Aird had seven points and seven rebounds for Utah Valley.
A Nelson bucket and a quick Garrity 3 gave Utah Valley a double-digit first-half lead at 21-11, but the Wildcats responded and cut it to a 28-26 after Senglin buried a long 3 and hit a free throw.
With a chance to take the last shot, Weber State put up an early 3 and Garrity made them pay with an and-1 on a runner in the lane with 1.8 seconds before the break for a 33-26 advantage.
Weber State returns home to play Saint Katherine College at the Dee Events Center next Tuesday.
Contact sports writer Roy Burton at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RoyBurtonSE.