The Utah Valley women’s basketball team faced their first of four in-state rivals, Southern Utah University. The home opener took place on Saturday afternoon, Nov.9, in Lockhart Arena and resulted in a Wolverine loss, 71-58.
The Wolverines came into the game with a chip on their shoulders as they lost to the T-Birds by one point (60-59) in Cedar City last season. SUU leads the series between the two teams 14-7.
Saturday wasn’t the day for UVU athletics, as volleyball lost to Chicago state 2-3, men’s basketball lost to Denver 62-74 and this women’s basketball loss. The positive side to Saturday was a win for men’s soccer, 4-1 against Air Force, and a wrestling win 40-3 vs. Sacred Heart.
SUU started the game shooting lights out from deep, going 3-4 in the first five minutes of the game. A 6-0 run early on gave the T-Birds the momentum they needed to maintain the lead nearly the entire first quarter. It was senior forward Jordan Holland that led the way for the Wolverines with seven points in the first quarter. 11 points for SUU’s senior guard Rebecca Cardenas helped the T-Birds power through the quarter.
Quarter number two is where SUU kicked it up a notch. They held the Wolverines scoreless for the first five minutes of the quarter and went on a 24-0 run. It wasn’t until the five-and-a-half-minute mark when senior guard Alexis Cortez put the ball in the hoop and stopped the SUU run. The T-Birds put up 22 points in the second quarter alone — while the Wolverines put up only eight points.
“We knew they were going to push the ball and we prepared for it,” said UVU head coach Dan Nielson. “It’s learning to stop those runs and buckle down and get something going.”
With a score of 46-21 heading into the locker room, the Wolverines desperately needed to ‘buckle down and get something going.’ It seemed like UVU did just that as they got on the board first with two points from the charity stripe, courtesy of sophomore center Josie Williams. Sophomore guard Eve Braslis put up another quick layup minutes later before SUU could score. That momentum wouldn’t last long though as Cardenas put up a point from the free throw line.
One thing the Wolverines had going for them in the third quarter was their 3-point shooting. Holland, Cotrez and sophomore forward Nehaa Sohail each scored from downtown. UVU shot 75 percent from deep in the quarter and outscored the T-Birds 18-16.
“Our team is learning and growing,” said Nielson. “I know it’s a cliche, but genuinely am proud of what they did the second half.”
The Wolverines again were able to again take control of the quarter, outscoring the T-Birds 19-9, but couldn’t manage to cut the deficit down anymore than to 12 points.
Holland achieved a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, the majority of her points coming from the charity stripe, where she shot 8-10. Another impressive performance came from Cortez as she finished the night with a team-high 16 points and six rebounds.
The Wolverines will now get seven days to regroup, and prepare to host the University of Nevada on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 2 p.m. MST in the UCCU Center. From there, they will go on a two-game round stint, playing UC Riverside on Nov. 21, and Boise State on Nov. 26.