Defensive masterclass leads Utah Valley over Westminster

Reading Time: 3 minutes Utah Valley Women’s Basketball showcased a defensive prowess in a 76-52 victory over in-state foe Westminster, improving to 2-2 on the year.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Utah Valley Women’s Basketball was yet to find their footing in the early season, averaging just 53 points per contest. What they needed was a chance to develop their game, progress, and dominate. They did just that Tuesday night against the Griffins. 

The first quarter was all Utah Valley, highlighting excellent defense and ball movement to take a commanding early lead. By the 2:30 mark in the first quarter, Utah Valley had already forced 10 turnovers and put up 20 points on the offensive end. 

Jenna Dick checked into the game, immediately drilled a 3-pointer, then Kylee Mabry got a no-look pass from Eleyana Tafisi and hit a triple which prompted a Griffin timeout. 

To close out the quarter, Kaylee Byon hit an 18-foot jumper to put the Wolverines up 24-9 going into the second quarter. 

Utah Valley carried their momentum into the second quarter, using shots from beyond the arc by Mabry and Dick yet again to put them up 34-18 at the media timeout.  

Despite a good start offensively, the momentum slowed down after UVU missed open shots. But the defensive intensity stayed the same, forcing five turnovers in the quarter. 

Utah Valley shot 3-16 from the field in the second quarter with all three buckets coming from deep.  

Eleyna Tafisi hit a triple with eight seconds left in the quarter, giving Utah Valley a first-half lead 37-21. 

Utah Valley would dig the knife deeper into the Griffins, taking a 45-25 lead at the media timeout backed by five turnovers in the first six minutes by Westminster.  

BYU transfer Amanda Barcello would get fouled on a three-point attempt to close out the half. After netting all three, and a Westminster buzzer-beater, UVU took a 53-30 hitting their season point average in just the third quarter. 

UVU highlighted their best quarter of the night, forcing nine turnovers and holding the Griffins to 4-12 shooting in the quarter, which was their worst shooting percentage of the night. 

The Wolverines continued their dominance into the final 10 minutes of the game, displaying more defensive prowess and offensive potential. 

Utah Valley had many wide-open shots, thanks to stellar play design and execution, but missed many opportunities to expand their lead even more.  

With three minutes to go, victory in sight, head coach Dan Nielson pulled the bench and was able to get his reserve players some playing time. 

The loudest moment of the game was when junior transfer Hanna Roberts entered the game, hit a hook shot off the glass and her teammates went wild.  

UVU would end the quarter with smiles from the bench to the crowd, finishing the Griffins off in a 76-42 victory.  

“We have increased in points every game, we have shot the ball better every game, but really for us it is how we are playing. I thought our energy was not where it needed to be last week, and I think you saw that today to the end,” Nielson said. 

UVU forced 33 turnovers from Westminster, with eight of those coming from Saige Gibb which set a school record for most steals in a game. 

“I liked our defensive effort, minus a couple spots in the second quarter, we were trying to speed them up,” Nielson said. “Offensively we settled for too many threes but overall, that is a game you have to get right, and I think we did.” 

Eleyna Tafisi finished with 10 points on 4/4 shooting and dropped six assists. 

Jenna Dick had 13 points on 3-10 shooting from deep, grabbing six boards with Byron equaling her 13 points with 5-12 shooting and four assists.  

Utah Valley will take a two-game road trip to face Idaho and WAC foe Seattle U before returning home to face in-state rival Utah Tech on Dec. 2.