Defense is the missing ingredient

The missing ingredient to the Wolverines’ recipe for success this season is better defense.

The Wolverines lost their second home game of the year 69-77 to Long Beach State. It was a tough loss considering the team had a 21 point lead late in the first half and was able to score 49 first half points.

The second half is one the ladies would like to forget. Unable to score like they did in the first half, the Wolverines watched their 19-point half-time lead evaporate and disappear entirely when they couldn’t generate enough defensive stops.

“It was a tough loss,” said sophomore guard Taylor Huber. “We should have won the game. I don’t think we came out with as much fire as we should have in the second half.”

Huber had an exceptional game coming off the bench, tying her career high with 17 points. Most of those points came in the first half when the Wolverines watched most of their shots fall in, shooting a white hot 60 percent from the field. They could have sold a video of the first half to shooting instructors as a how-to DVD.

The second half would have been a how-not-to-shoot DVD, shooting only 22 percent. Even though they would have liked to score more, the game slipped out of their hands on the defensive end.

The Wolverines won’t have much time to dwell on it, though, since they are currently on a two game road trip in Tulsa and South Dakota before returning home on Dec 4.

Head coach Cathy Nixon views this short road trip as an opportunity to work on the little things such as rebounding, boxing out and getting defensive stops in critical moments.

“We gotta figure out how to win,” Nixon said. “A lot of times it’s just making a stand when the game is in the balance, and I believe it’s on the defensive end. Sometimes your confidence gets a little shaky when you don’t see results but hopefully they can remain even keel emotionally and continue with their effort.”

The effort has been there all year. It was certainly there in an upset versus Utah State, and the Wilverines played well in close losses to Santa Clara and San Jose State.

“We we’re really, really close in a lot of those games,” said Great West Player of the Week Sammie Jensen. “Some of them we were even up in the first half. We do so well for a period of time and then we have those lapses that we need to fix.”

Jensen finished the game with 10 points and 11 rebounds. She has recorded a double double in all six games this season. Although she is on pace to win another Player of the Year award, she isn’t satisfied.

“In the big picture we are doing really well,” Jensen said. “We need to make sure we are boxing out every possession, not just the majority of the game. I feel like that is our huge weak point right now.”

With four games in the next two weeks, UVU will have plenty of time to tweak the recipe for success this season before conference play begins in January.

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