Head Coach Cathy Nixon is starting her 17th season with the Utah Valley University women’s basketball team. Wednesday night the team was able to take on Western New Mexico University for an exhibition game that resulted in the Wolverines’ 73-57 victory.
The game provided Nixon and the players an opportunity to analyze their efforts as a team and provide areas of improvement. Though the game resulted in a victory for the women’s basketball team, Nixon still expresses areas that she’d wish to see strengthened.
“I did see some real bright spots there,” Nixon said. “But also we’re a work in progress, for sure.”
Senior Jenna Johnson led the team with 17 total points Wednesday night with junior Sammie Jensen right behind her with 15 total points, giving a double-double with 14 rebounds. With the exception of Johnson and Jensen, the team found missed opportunities to capitalize on open shots as the rest of the starters scored 17 total points collectively.
Bouncing back from last year, Nixon will look to Johnson and Jensen as the go-to girls in overall scoring and paint production. According to Nixon, Jensen is coming back this year with the same successful mentality that she possessed last season. Leading the team in rebounds Wednesday night, Jensen said she expects double-doubles from herself.
“I feel like Sammie is just kind of picking up from where she left off,” Nixon said. “And probably even a little ahead of that.”
As the start of the regular season approaches, Nixon will also look to point guard Cydne Mason to help revive the assists total throughout the season, something the Wolverines struggled with last season after obtaining 409 assists to 582 turnovers. According to Nixon, assists and turnovers have been a vast focus among the team during the off season.
“More than anything, we have to limit our turnovers,” Nixon said. “If we can stay around the 10 or 12 mark on turnovers I feel like we’re a team that is going to have the assists to match that.”
Mason led UVU in assists Wednesday night in their exhibition game and only gave up two turnovers. Mason only averaged 6.8 minutes per game last season and Nixon expressed the exhibition game as an opportunity to finally analyze Mason’s ability to run the ball and make assists. Mason believes that the team will bounce back from those struggles last season.
“I know we’re good enough to take care of the ball,” Mason said. “It’s just a mindset.”
Overall, the women’s basketball team was a slightly younger team last season. This trait has allowed the team to come back obtaining a better feel for each other and a better knowledge of each player’s specific style. Being nearly the same team as last season, Mason and Nixon both state that it has provided the team with an advantage to learn from mistakes and make a great season.
“We know what to expect. We are a lot more familiar with our team’s philosophy and what we want to accomplish,” Mason said. “We know each other better on and off the court.””