Fortunately, history would not repeat itself as the Wolverines were able to secure an overtime victory in their first conference game of the season against the University of Texas Pan-American. Last year, the Wolverines lost an overtime matchup versus the Broncs when Sammie Jensen couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.
New year, new result.
“I think when it came down to the game being on the line, we made plays,” said Head Coach Cathy Nixon. “In overtime, we got the necessary elements defensively, and then we just capitalized offensively.”
There wouldn’t have been an overtime if it wasn’t for the heroics of junior guard Whitney Jenkins. Rather than taking a timeout like most coaches would following a made basket, Nixon trusted her players to make a play. The Wolverines pushed the ball down the court and found Jenkins cutting to the hoop. As she attempted to shoot, the ball was partially deflected. Jenkins regained possession of the ball and converted the layup that sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Wolverines dominated defensively and scored enough points to send the Broncs back to the midwest.
“We knew if we got stops, we would win,” said senior guard Cydne Gray. “I think we had six stops in overtime, and we knew we had to buckle down and we did.”
As the floor general, Gray is responsible for getting her teammates good looks at the basket. She was exceptional versus the Broncs, setting a new career high of assists, 11.
Sammie Jensen continued her stellar non-conference play in her first conference game by recording 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. She was named the Great West player of the week for the fifth time this season.
The Wolverines wrapped up a difficult non-conference schedule by finishing 5-11, with many of the games on the road.
“It’s not easy to go through pre-season like we did in multiple ways,” Nixon said. “It’s not easy to travel and play and to not win as much as you would like to.”
It was evident in the conference opener against the Broncs that the difficult preseason schedule has prepared the Wolverines to make a run for the Great West conference title.
“In the Great West, the style of teams are a lot like Pan American,” Nixon said. “We need to take away what we believe are their strengths and make them our strengths.”
The Wolverines won’t hit the road again until January 19 when they visit Cal State Bakersfield. They aren’t currently a conference member, but the Wolverines will be seeing them regularly in the WAC next season.