The Utah Valley Wolverines defeated Southern Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 16 by a score of 60-54. The Wolverines withstood a late-game run from the Thunderbirds and utilized clutch free-throw shooting to pull out the win.
Four Wolverines scored in double figures in the game, including All-WAC center Josie Williams, who led the way for the Wolverines posting yet another double-double with 17 points and 17 rebounds. Maria Carvalho, who was named the WAC Player of the Week, put up 14 points and five rebounds. In addition, Madison Grange and Megan Jensen also had big performances with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Coming off the loss to Fresno State, the Wolverines looked to make a statement early. Grange continued her stand-out play in the opening period, putting up seven points early and helping the Wolverines jump out to a 21-15 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Wolverines shot a blistering 66% as a team from the field and 50% from behind the three-point line. The perimeter defense was huge in the opening period as the Wolverines held SUU to 17% shooting from three.
The second period was much less free-flowing as the Wolverines began to struggle with turnovers, an issue that has plagued the Wolverines over the past season. After turning the ball over three times in the opening minutes of the second period, the Wolverines got the offense back on track by pushing the ball inside the paint. Williams and Jensen helped anchor the Wolverines down low as 12 out of the 13 Wolverine points in the quarter came from the inside. The Wolverines managed to maintain the lead and went into the halftime break up 34-25. As a team the shooting cooled off a touch as they tallied a respectable 42% from the field yet went 0% from behind the arc. Despite the plateau in shooting, the Wolverine defense again came up big, holding the Thunderbirds to just 21% shooting in the period.
The third period began very back-and-forth as both teams looked to make a run from the whistle. The Wolverines managed to maintain roughly the same amount of distance as neither team was able to go on an extended run. In fact, both teams went on an extended scoring drought for roughly three minutes. The Wolverine shots were not falling but the defense held strong as the team held the Thunderbirds to just eight points in the quarter. After a cold shooting display from both teams, the Wolverines found themselves heading into the fourth period up 47-36.
Trailing for the majority of the game, the Thunderbirds came out with a sense of urgency in the final quarter, going on a 6-0 run and closing the Wolverine lead to just five. With outside shots not falling, coach Nielsen called Williams’ number and she stepped up in the final quarter of play. The center scored six of the Wolverines final 13 points and hit two clutch free-throws in the final minute of play to put the game out of reach and stifle the Thunderbird comeback attempt. The Wolverines managed to hang on and defeated SUU 60-54. The Wolverines shot poorly in the fourth at just 30% from the field but made shots when they mattered the most.
The Wolverines started hot but cooled off late as they shot 45% from the field and just 15% from the three-point line in the game. The team also had 15 turnovers but outrebounded the Thunderbirds 42-32. Despite the poor perimeter shooting, the Wolverine defense helped deny an SUU comeback holding the team to just 29% shooting and 30% from three.
The Wolverines look to gain momentum as they travel to Nevada to square off against the Wolfpack on Saturday, Nov. 20. The game tips off at 2 p.m. MT and can be streamed on the Mountain West Network.
Sports Editor and Senior Staff Writer
Junior at Utah Valley University majoring in Communications with emphasis in Journalism and Media