A quality road win will have to wait

Without question the women’s basketball team is having its best season since playing at the Division I level. But there is still something missing and the team might have to wait until next year to get it.

Robyn Fairbanks, Sandy Marvin and Julie McMurray have been impressive this season, leading Utah Valley to a great start, and the team is almost sure to get over 20 wins this year. But last week’s loss to New Mexico State was the team’s last chance to get a quality road win.

The remaining road schedule wouldn’t scare a junior high girl’s basketball team, let alone Cathy Nixon’s Wolverines. Games against Cal State Bakersfield, New Jersey Institute of Technology and against Chicago State make Utah Valley look like Tennessee in comparison.

A 3-5 record on the road doesn’t look very good when compared to the undefeated record the team has at home. And it isn’t.

Utah Valley beat Seton Hall, Gonzaga, Nevada and Portland State at home but wins against Southern Utah, Utah State and Air Force on the road aren’t impressive as a win against BYU or New Mexico State would have been. 

Big wins at home have been consistent and frequent, but the team has been shaky when it travels away from Orem. The schedule wasn’t easy, but a win against a BYU team would have been nice or against New Mexico State; Utah Valley could have made the top 25 this year after getting a vote in the AP Poll early in the season.

Instead, Utah Valley suffered its first loss of the year on the road against Montana State and followed it up with a loss to BYU three days later, a BYU team which is 6-6 so far this season. A BYU team Utah Valley would likely beat at home.

Nobody could have expected them to win at No. 14 Duke, but then again, nobody would have expected the team to give away 39 turnovers. A team can’t win like that even playing Independents.

In the team’s four road losses turnovers were major problems with 25 or more except in the New Mexico State loss last week.
Utah Valley even dropped a game last week to Denver (5-9) on the road but the Pioneers were 4-9. With that loss the team hasn’t won a road game for five straight.

This must be put into perspective, though. In Utah Valley’s fourth year the expectations are this high already, that’s a good thing. Allowing Denver to shoot over 60 percent is not. Beating tough teams like Seton Hall at home is good. Allowing Denver to put 101 points on the board is not.

There’s been so much good for this team this season it would be nice to see that on the road but it just hasn’t happened.
Playing other Independents the remainder of the schedule will only remind us that this team is way out of its league compared to other Independent teams.

Conference affiliation can’t come soon enough, then who knows how high expectations will rise with NCAA tournament possibilities. Road wins will have to come for this team to be considered a tournament contender.

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