One Step at a Time

A recurring theme of in state rivalry games is always a grueling, physical battle. The story was no different this week when the Wolverines squared off against the Weber State Wildcats on Tuesday Dec. 4 and dueled with the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds on Thursday Dec. 6. The opportunity to play both games at home was welcomed by the Wolverines who had played five of their previous six games on the road, resulting in a tough six-game losing streak.

UVU was victorious on Tuesday, snapping the streak and beating Weber State 68-56. The game featured a dominant performance by Sammie Jensen, who recorded 30 points and 15 rebounds, but the key to the win was a strong team effort on defense. The Wolverines’ defensive pressure resulted in the Wildcats shooting only 30.4 percent from the field.

“We came out with an aggressive mentality and it was evident in our play,” UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. “Our defense was really a catalyst for our offense. This is just one win but it is definitely something that we can use as a springboard to give us some confidence looking forward.”

Nixon was proven correct in predicting that the team defense would give the Wolverines additional confidence in their next game where they held Southern Utahto no field goals for nearly 14 minutes of play.

“It’s easy to get pumped up for a game like this,” said UVU Forward Kaycee Mansfield, who scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Thursday night. “We kind of have a little rivalry, so I was pumped up for this game.”

Though the effort and determination of the Wolverines was evident, they eventually fell to SUU, 71-66.

Despite the loss, UVU once again held their opponent under 40 percent shooting, limiting the Thunderbirds to just 38.3 percent, a vast improvement from the games during the losing streak.

“When we were back and didn’t give them things in transition and they were coming at our full defense I thought we were really good,” said Nixon. “I thought we kept them out of their rhythm and made them go kind of deep in the shot clock. I feel like we’re kind of turning a corner defensively that way.”

Although the Wolverines were unable to win both rivalry games, these drastic improvements are positive steps on the way to being competitive during the remainder of their schedule, and will continue to motivate the Wolverines to play with a high level of confidence.

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