The Utah Valley women’s basketball team made its debut in the Western Athletic Conference tournament on Wednesday in a hard-fought overtime loss to Bakersfield, 65-63.
The No. 7 seed Wolverines were led by a career-best performance from sophomore center Sam Loggins, who scored 28 points and pulled down 12 boards. True freshman Rhaiah Spooner-Knight also had a career night by grabbing 17 rebounds and finished with a double-double with 10 points.
There was a lot of fight in the Wolverines, who played hard all 45 minutes of the game as hopes of an upest came to a crashing hault in the final seconds of the overtime period.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the girls tonight,” Head Coach Kathy Nixon explained. “No matter what we’ve asked them to do they’ve done it with all their heart. “
That heart was also on display at the postgame press conference as emotions ran high for a team that had a good turn around at the end of the season, including back-to-back wins at home to conclude the final six games of the season an even .500 at 3-3.
The contest was tightly contested throughout, neither team really coming away with a substantial lead. The game had 14 lead changes and 10 ties, making it a very entertaining and fun atmosphere.
Bakersfield tied the game 55-55 and had gained possession with time winding down. The Roadrunners looked for an easy layup to pull ahead. However, a charge forced them to turn the ball over with only 4.3 seconds remaining.
With such a short amount of time, there wasn’t much UVU could draw up to get a good shot during a timeout. Bakersfield took the time to clamp down on defense and push the full-court press, forcing Whitney Jenkins to throw up a prayer that wasn’t answered after a collision between Jenkins and a Bakersfield players caused the ball to fall short of the rim, sending the game to overtime.
The overtime continued to be a back-and-forth contest until Bakersfield pulled away in the final minute of the extra 5 minutes.
Although the game didn’t end how the Wolverines would have liked, there is a lot of positive energy moving forward with the team performing well down the final stretch. That momentum is what the Wolverines will hope to add onto next season.
“As you can see we’re using a core of young kids,” Nixon said. “We have some great recruits coming in that will compliment our team well.”
The season ends with only two seniors departing, and the Wolverines are in great shape for next season. Especially with the development of Loggins, Spooner-Knight and Katie Kuklok, the team will much better next season. Plus, they’ll have a WAC season in the rear view mirror.