Thanksgiving break wasn’t a joyous time for the women’s basketball team as it dropped a pair of home games to Sacramento State and Northern Arizona.
The Hornets of Sacramento State came into the game averaging nearly 91 points per game and their offensive output did not disappoint in an 87-84 victory over UVU. The Hornets buried 11 three-point field goals and had four scorers in double figures.
Sacramento State wasn’t the only team that played well offensively. UVU had its second-highest shooting percentage of the season, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a late game push that gave the Hornets a quality road win.
“We worked really hard today,” head coach Cathy Nixon said. “We just needed to work a little bit smarter. There are little things in each game that you need to care of or else they will beat you. Today it was not making free throws and not keeping them off the offensive glass. But, we competed hard today and we’ll continue to mature and get better and we’ll start closing out games like this.”
The Wolverines had a chance to tie the game with 19 seconds left, but they were unable to get off a shot. The Hornets forced a traveling violation, which put the game out of reach for UVU. It was a difficult loss for the Wolverines because they led by eight points with seven minutes remaining.
A similar finish was repeated against Northern Arizona a few days after Thanksgiving. The Wolverines were in control for the first 35 minutes of the games, but the Lumberjacks put together a late game run that UVU could not overcome.
The Wolverines had a one-point lead with eight minutes to play but it was all Lumberjacks after that. Northern Arizona dominated the glass and used strong low-post play from Erikka Banks and Priscilla Brooks. Both players were monsters in the paint and UVU had no answer. Banks had 19 points and 19 rebounds, and Brooks wasn’t far behind with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
The Lumberjacks finished the game on a 24-11 run that gave them their first victory of the season.
“The difference in this one came on the defensive end,” Nixon said. “We gave up way too many offensive rebounds and they took 12 more shots than we did. We also turned the ball over a bunch. These are things that are fixable and as a coaching staff we are committed to fixing them. We’ve just got to find ourselves as a team on the defensive end.”
Two seniors that were expected to be large contributors have started slow. Senior guard Whitney Jenkins has yet to score in double figures this season. She started every game as a junior and was the most experienced player returning to the Wolverines in a year where UVU lacks experience.
Kyra Prause is another senior who hasn’t contributed as much as expected. Coaches were excited to have her back after sitting out last season with a serious leg injury.
Prause is a dynamic player who can affect a game on both ends of the floor. She hasn’t seen the minutes necessary to be a game changer. This is largely due to the emergence of Katie KuKlok, who leads the team in scoring with 19.7 points per game. Prause is averaging 13.9 minutes per game, which ranks her seventh on the team in minutes averaged.
The Wolverines still have time to find an identity and correct their mistakes before WAC play begins on Jan. 4. There is still time, but it’s quickly running out.