Rarely has a group of well-conditioned athletes consumed a cupcake that tasted so good without any of that pesky remorseful aftertaste.
When the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders came to town last Thursday, the Wolverines threw their eating habits out the window in order to end a four-game losing streak.
The 78-69 win marked the first for Utah Valley in over a month and their 10th straight victory in the McKay Center this season.
"It really is good to get a W," coach Cathy Nixon said. "I thought we had some moments that were just awesome."
After a 13-point first half for guard Sandy Marvin, the Highlanders nearly caught a break when she suffered an ankle injury early in the second half, which kept her on the sidelines for the remainder of the game.
Nevertheless, the sweet shooting of Julie McMurray, combined with the dominating post play of All-American Robyn Fairbanks, was more than enough to send the Highlanders packing.
The inside-out attack of McMurray and Fairbanks combined for 40 points as they each scored an even 20.
"When Sandy goes out, it’s definitely a big loss because she’s a big offensive threat," McMurray said. "We just had to pick it up without her."
Rather than settle for the nearly automatic baseline jumpers, McMurray assertively took her defender to the basket time after time for the high-percentage lay up. Whether it was a crossover dribble, her quick first step, or the ability to cut through the lane, it worked.
"She was asking me to give her the ball," Nixon said. "To see the energy that she had and the confidence was exciting."
The other half of the one-two punch came from the ever-reliable Fairbanks who finished her night on 9-of-12 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds.
Utah Valley cleaned the class as they out rebounded NJIT 39-28 including 15 offensive boards. Second-chance opportunities seemed to be a major contributor as the Wolverines pulled away in the second half for the nine-point win.
While beating a team like NJIT isn’t going to skyrocket Utah Valley’s RPI or put them on the national map, it has put them back on the winning track.
"We were all sick of losing," Fairbanks said. "We all just did what we had to do, and we did it."
The big three of Fairbanks, McMurray and Marvin combined for 56 points and 18 rebounds. Drawing a comparison to Jordan, Pippen and Rodman of the championship Bulls teams may be a little premature, but their effectiveness on the court has been just as real for this team.