The top two ranked WAC teams faced off in Orem, Utah on Thursday, Jan. 23. Utah Valley was handed their first conference loss due to a CSU Bakersfield 3-pointer at the final buzzer — with the final score being 53-55.
After a tough loss against the bottom of the pack, Chicago State, the Roadrunners came out with one goal in mind — stopping sophomore guard Maria Carvalho. Their plan seemed to be working as Carvalho didn’t score until nearly the four minute mark of the second quarter. Add three fouls to her statsheet and one might say CSUB was pretty successful.
Luckily for the Wolverines, senior forward Jordan Holland took charge and drained 13 points in the first half.
41-41 was the score to start the final quarter of play. The Wolverines would bring their lead up to six at two different occasions with major help from senior guard Alexis Cortez. On two different occasions UVU also found themselves behind, but never by more than a bucket.
“Credit to them [CSUB], they kept fighting, they kept playing, they hit a big shot when it mattered,” said UVU head coach Dan Nielson.
Cortez knocked down eight points in the final quarter and was seemingly perfect across the floor. 2-of-2 from the field, 2-of-2 from deep and you guessed it, 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.
A six-point difference with just under three minutes left, the Wolverines could see the winning light at the end of the tunnel. They would not see a bucket in their favor the remainder of the game.
From there, CSUB sophomore forward Jayden Eggleston dropped five straight points, including a successful and-one play. Two more points from the charity stripe brought the Roadrunners within one point.
With the clock ticking down, the Roadrunners were forced to foul and hope the Wolverines would miss from the charity stripe. Holland stepped up to the line for her 10th and 11th free throws but couldn’t sink either of them, giving Bakersfield 10 seconds.
“Sometimes you get the bounce, sometimes you don’t,” said Nielson. “They got the bounce today and got the three.”
The buzzer sounded in a way, that no home team wants to see or hear. A missed layup by the Roadrunners was tipped out to the perimeter where a patiently waiting CSUB graduate senior guard Andie Easley stood. A shot that few ever get to take, but when given the chance, only hope to impress. Easley let the ball fly from behind the arc and sunk it.
“I know Jordan is frustrated with those free throws but she also made some great plays for us to be in the game,” said Nielson. “They [Holland and Cortez], have the experience, they’ve been there and made big plays for us to win games, I’m obviously going to trust them moving on.”
Holland and Cortez led the Wolverines as the only players to reach double-digit points. Holland dropped 20 points to go along with four rebounds and three steals. Cortez contributed 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, and shot 75% from deep.
The Wolverines remain in the top spot with a record of 5-1 and the Roadrunners right behind at 4-1. UVU will stay home to play Grand Canyon University on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. MST.