Utah Valley women’s basketball team hosted conference opponent NJIT March 4 in its final regular season game taking the win 70-61.
“It’s really satisfying to see them put the game together on both ends, the defensive end and the offensive end,” said UVU coach Cathy Nixon. “Seasons are a journey and I really feel good about where we’re at; to end our regular season with a win like that against a team we struggled with early on.”
Thursday’s game was the Pink Zone Game to raise awareness for cancer and raise money for Orem resident Diane Morita who is battling colon cancer. Players wore pink shoelaces; wristbands, headbands and Senior Julie Smith even sported pink knee-high socks.
It was also senior night for Asumi Nakayama, Blake Reynolds and Smith, as well as Junior Kayla Burningham who’s playing her final season at UVU. Prior to the game all four players were honored at center court.
NJIT led the score for nearly seven minutes in the first half until Utah Valley caught up and took a one-point lead off a jumper by Jenna Johnson with 8:44 left to play.
The Highlanders kept the spread small and with 3:31 to play took a one-point lead. The Wolverines answered back immediately taking the lead and keeping the lead into the break. At the half, UVU led NJIT 33-27. Utah Valley shot 50 percent from the field to NJIT’s 32.3 percent in the first half.
Utah Valley kept the lead for nearly the first seven minutes of the second half until NJIT tied the game at 41. The Highlanders didn’t lead once during the second half while Utah Valley took their lead to as many as nine.
Johnson led the Wolverines with 27 points. “She’s really proven to be a consistent contributor on both ends of the court, offensively and defensively,” said Nixon.
Smith followed Johnson with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Erika Newbold finished with 13 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Nakayama led the team in assists finishing with 11 and contributed eight points.
Utah Valley will host the Great West Conference tournament March 10-13 in the UVU Events Center.