Utah Valley’s women’s basketball spent the past three weeks playing local rivals like Utah State University and The University of Utah. However, the schedule helped bring the team down to a four-game losing streak, which concluded on Tuesday night when the Wolverines (7-9) defeated Longwood University at home. Forward Sammie Jensen helped crush UVU’s disappointing streak with a double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds).
“We’ve been doing some very good things in games. We just haven’t been able to put it together,” head coach Cathy Nixon said. “We played some good teams during that stretch of time, but it’s always good to get a win.”
Utah Valley’s struggle is offense, specifically scoring. San Jose State held the Wolverines to a 25.8-percent shooting average after shooting 28 percent against Utah State. Regardless of what actions UVU takes on defense or with ball handling on offense, high scoring has not been present during the losing streak.
“You’ve also got to be tough on the defensive end,” Nixon said. “Looking at…Utah State, we had stretches there where we got stops on eight out of 10 possessions, but we didn’t score. We had chances to pull away where we just didn’t capitalize on that.”
According to Jensen, the lack of scoring has been led by a mind games that can naturally taunt players through the pressures of any game. Players take perimeter shots hoping to “not miss” when the shot should be taken with intentions to “make it.”
“I really do think we just need to calm down,” Jensen said. “We need to tell ourselves that every day.”
Nixon’s strategies to counteract these emotions include assisting the team to focus on controllable efforts like the player’s confidence and attitude towards the game. Physically, Nixon wants her team to simply show more aggression.
“I think that’s a release,” Nixon said. “You can go down there and work hard and bang people around a little bit, and on the offensive end hopefully you’re creating a little bit easier opportunities.”
As the team’s leader in scoring at 13.8ppg, Jensen’s attempt to improve the team’s scoring came to light in Tuesday night’s game against Longwood University. Jensen scored 17 points after only putting up six against San Jose State five days earlier.
Overall efficiency is Nixon’s takeaway from the recent tough schedule, including taking care of the ball on offense and remaining tough on defense.
As for the scoring, Nixon is hopeful it will come soon enough.
“They’ve been shooting in rhythm,” Nixon said. “They’ve taken good shots and their selection has been good, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t go into the basket.”
Kevin Olsen – Sports Writer
Photos by Lance Larsen and Sean Hadlock