Thriving to repeat as Great West Conference tournament champions, the lady Wolverines took to their hardwood as they hosted the GWC tournament March 9-12.
As the No. 4 seed, the lady Wolverines first met conference foe Texas-Pan American for the third time this season. Utah Valley ran away with the win, 81-65, advancing them to face the No. 1 seed, Chicago State.
By a margin of 18 the lady Wolverines’ season came to an end when Chicago State took the game from UVU, March 11.
“I thought we played well against Chicago state,” said coach Cathy Nixon. “They’re a good basketball team and we would have loved to get the upset there, but we ran up against a team that was a tough matchup for us and was playing good basketball.”
Losses may have defined much of the season, but persistent, determined and striving for wins, they returned to the court loss after loss after loss all season long.
“As we set out at the beginning of the season, our goal was to achieve our potential, peak at the right time, and I think in that sense we really did feel a level of success,” said Nixon. “The last six weeks of the season we really became a good basketball team and our very best game of the year, I think, was the first game of the tournament (against UTPA). We played exceptional.”
Finishing with an overall record of 8-21 and 5-7 in conference play, Nixon watched as her roster put in the hard work all season long, even in the long stretches of losses, 10 being the longest this season.
“They chose to stick together,” said Nixon. “Probably one of the hardest things as a coach is that you have to have that unity and loosing is divisive. It’s really frustrating for everybody to lose games because we’re working hard. You’re working equally as hard when you’re loosing as when you’re winning most of the time.”
Nixon went on to add, “Really I think it’s a great tribute to each one of them individually and to them collectively as a team that they chose to stay on board with each other, they chose to stay on board with us as coaches and they chose to continue to work hard. And I think that’s what enabled us to be able to peak at the end of the year and to start being a pretty good team by the end of the year.”
As her 16th season came to an end, Nixon looked around for her seniors she’d say goodbye to, only to realize she didn’t have to say any goodbyes this time around. “That felt different,” said Nixon. “I’ve never had a team that didn’t have graduating people, even as a junior college. To have no seniors was definitely a change, but awesome. It’s a different feel and helps me to be optimistic about next year and know a little bit more about what to expect.”
Following the GWC tournament, newcomer Sammie Jensen was named to the All-Tournament team. Jensen averaged 18 points and 12.5 rebounds in their two games and finished the season with an average of 14 points per game and 10.7 rebounds.
Although the season ended sooner than hoped, Nixon praised her roster’s hard work throughout the season saying, “I’m proud of the girls for sticking with it. It’s not easy to go through the learning process like we did at the beginning of the year. We would have loved to be in that championship game and have a chance to repeat, but I really was pleased with how we finished the year.”