Women’s basketball defies odds with undefeated start to WAC play
Back in October, the women’s basketball team was picked to finish this season eighth in the poll of WAC coaches. That was a brutal estimation considering it is California Baptist’s first year competing in Division I athletics and against WAC opponents.
The only team picked to finish below UVU was the consistent cellar-dweller Chicago State. The poorly-funded Cougars have posted a record of 1-59 in the last two seasons and have gone winless through 15 games this year. The lone win, however, came against the Wolverines in Orem last season.
After last season’s sixth-place finish in the WAC and an 11-19 record overall, a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination, UVU was dealt an additional blow—their top three scorers would not be back next season. Two of them had no remaining years of eligibility, but Britta Spencer chose to move on from the program.
This left a gaping hole to fill on a roster devoid of a whole lot of promising prospects.
About halfway through the season, UVU is not only getting better, it’s unbeaten through three WAC games. The Wolverines have taken the low expectations and exceeded them thus far.
It’s early, but these Wolverines could be making a run at the upper-echelon of the WAC standings. It’s a down year in the conference with not only Chicago State, but Seattle University winless all season as well. Cal State Bakersfield, picked to compete for the conference title next to New Mexico State, has not met expectations either, going just 6-11 to start the year.
Still, when UVU beat the Roadrunners last week to make them 3-0 in the conference, it was the first time they had beat them in the regular season for two years.
UVU, 9-7 overall, has found production from a couple of newcomers in Eve Braslis, a freshman forward from Australia, and Alexis Cortez, a junior guard who transferred from East Carolina.
Braslis is leading the team in rebounds per game in her first year of collegiate basketball. She has also played the most minutes on the team — over 30 more than Holland, the next closest.
Cortez was highly recruited out of high school in Arizona where she was the 2015-16 Arizona Daily Star Player of the Year. The 6-foot guard was valued as a three-star recruit by ESPN her senior year and is the most decorated player ever to sign with UVU.
Against Bakersfield she posted a double-double, shooting 4-of-5 from beyond the arc to go with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the game. She was named the WAC Player of the Week for the second time this season.
Leading the team in scoring is junior Jordan Holland with 13.1 points per game. One of the few players on this team with experience playing under head coach Cathy Nixon is Holland and it’s showing as she is having the best year of her career.
There’s still a long way to go for UVU to win the WAC title, but the Wolverines could be a team to be reckoned with at the WAC Tournament come spring time in Las Vegas.
Photo courtesy of: UVU Athletics
Ty Bianucci is a life-long fan of the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and Golden State Warriors who started on the sports beat for The Review, but now contributes investigative stories. He, along with two of his colleagues, were awarded the Sunshine Award in 2018 by the Society of Professional Journalists.