Two-steps forward, one-step back. This seems to be the story for the UVU women’s basketball team.
After winning two straight games and opening up conference play with a 3-1 record, the team suffered a devastating two-point loss at the hands of the NJIT Highlanders.
The Wolverines had a chance to pull away from the pack and take a commanding conference lead along with North Dakota, but couldn’t hold off a late barrage of three-point shots by the Highlanders last Thursday night.
“It’s unfortunate,” said head coach Cathy Nixon. “This was a real opportunity for us to defend our home court, to put ourselves in a position to contend for the conference championship. We’ve got to hold home court.”
The biggest problem the Wolverines have had is finding consistency with their shot. In their previous two wins, the Wolverines shot 48 percent from the floor. In the loss to NJIT, they shot 32 percent.
Sammie Jensen played well in the loss Thursday, but in the previous two wins she poured in 21 points in each game and added 10 and 12 rebounds, respectively, to give the nation’s 18th leading rebounder two more double-doubles.
Jensen is the offensive leader of the Wolverines, and Erika Newbold has emerged as a viable second scoring option, but the team still needs a consistent third scorer to help those two and in particular, they still need scoring from their perimeter players. Whitney Jenkins looks poised to take that role as she has averaged 10.6 points per game over the last three outings.
“She’s shooting the ball well, ” Nixon said. “She’s doing it consistently in practice and hopefully it wont just be her and hopefully there will be some other kids that will jump on with that.”
Turnovers also continue to hurt this Wolverines squad. When they shoot the ball well they can overcompensate for their sloppy play. In the last three games they have turned the ball over a total of 50 times.
“We’ve got to take better care of the ball,” Nixon said.
Saturday they continued their second go-around through the Great West Conference, starting with another matchup against Chicago State in Orem, to whom they fell by 27 points in Chicago.
“My job as a coach is to get it turned around and be ready to play on Saturday.” Nixon said. “Chicago State had our number big time out there.”
By Nick Hefler