Utah Valley falls short to top team in the WAC, Grand Canyon
Reading Time: 2 minutes Tempers were hot in UVU’s loss to Grand Canyon on Thursday night, but what happened in the game to get it to that point?
The Utah Valley Women’s Basketball (6-10, 1-6) team hosted the number one team in the conference, Grand Canyon University (15-3, 7-0) and fell short despite a tremendous performance on both sides of the ball.
Utah Valley had one of its best shooting performances at 45% from the field while also forcing 19 turnovers to a team that averages just under 14 a game.
Tahlia White led all scorers with a career high 23 points on 9/13 shooting and 4-6 from beyond the arch.
Liana Kaitu’u and Tessa Chaney were a force down low defensively, but with early foul trouble they were both forced to sit, allowing Grand Canyon to win the rebound battle 38-24
“I thought we showed a lot of heart today and really competed even when we were down,” head coach Dan Nielson said “I’ll give them credit but we were a couple calls away from winning that one.”
Grand Canyon shot the ball very well per usual as five players for the Antelopes ended in double figures.
This was Shay Fano’s first game back at the UCCU center where she played as a Wolverine the past few years. The fans gave her a warm welcome and she fed off of it, ending with 11 points and coming down with eight rebounds.
The Antelopes got off to a quick start after knocking down four of their first shots from the field, capping a 9-0 run that caused head coach Dan Nielson to call an early timeout.
UVU responded quickly after the timeout going on a 9-2 run that was led by two consecutive turnovers by Eleyana Tafisi cutting the lead to just two points.
With the momentum shifting towards the Wolverines and the crowd getting into it, GCU responded with a much needed 5-0 run of their own to widen the lead 20-12
With three minutes to go Utah Valley was able to get within striking distance but the Antelopes kept pulling away.
White was a big help in the first quarter scoring 11 of the Wolverines 23 points.
“She has been playing really well despite missing time with her recent injury,” Nielson explained. “She’s a smart player, great scorer and a piece that we missed early on this year.”
After a slow start from both teams, UVU started to shoot lights out which gave them momentum on the other side forcing the Antelopes to take contested shots.
Utah Valley went into the locker room only down by three after shooting 46% while to just 10 points on 4/15 shooting.
To start the second half, White continued her impressive performance knocking down the first bucket of the third quarter which tied the game up 44-44.
Grand Canyon responded with another 7-0 run to silence the crowd.
With tensions rising coach Nielson was frustrated after a few missed calls from the refs which led to a technical foul at a crucial point in the game.
Grand Canyon was able to capitalize, extending their lead to 12 heading into the fourth quarter.
The entire fourth quarter the Wolverines were unable to get within single digits and despite an incredible team effort and all around impressive performance, Utah Valley fell short to Grand Canyon 78-68.
This goes down as a conference loss for the Wolverines falling to 6-10 on the season and 1-6 in conference play. And for the Antelopes they remain undefeated in conference play and will improve 15-3 on the year.
Utah Valley will head on the road to face in-state rival Utah Tech Saturday Jan 20th at 2pm.
This game can be streamed on ESPN+.
Kaleb Dyer is a Senior Staff writer for the UVU Review. Kaleb was born and raised in Draper, Utah and is majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. In his free time, Kaleb loves watching all sports but mostly college football and basketball. He loves writing for Utah Valley sports page and his dream is to one day become a sports broadcaster and/or journalist.