The Utah Valley women’s basketball team (4-13, 1-5 Western Athletic Conference) lost 71-50 to the Abilene Christian University Wildcats (9-8, 3-3) on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the UCCU Center in Orem, Utah.
The Wolverines couldn’t overcome a 44-19 deficit to the Wildcats in the first half despite outscoring the Wildcats 31-27 in the second half.
UVU now finds itself in last place in the WAC Standings after losing five-straight conference games following a 65-63 double-overtime victory over the Grand Canyon University Lopes (13-4, 5-1) on Dec. 29.
The Wolverines had three scorers hit double figures, starting with Eleyana Tafisi, who scored a team-high 14 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Shay Fano added 13 points, nine boards, and two steals of her own while Kaylee Byon – going 2-4 from three – scored 12 points.
28 of the Wolverines’ 51 points came inside the paint and UVU was also without star scorer and rebounder Jaeden Brown.
UVU, with four points each from Tafisi and Mae Afoa, jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead within the first three minutes of the first quarter. However, the Wildcats responded with an 18-2 run to close out the first quarter with a 23-12 lead.
The Wildcats continued to roll in the second quarter, outscoring the Wolverines 21-7 to jump out to a 44-19 advantage heading into halftime. Fano (four) and Tafisi (three) combined for all seven second-quarter points for the UVU.
The Wolverines, with two threes and a layup from Byon, jumped out to 8-0 run to begin the third quarter, cutting the deficit down 44-27 with 7:03 remaining. The Wildcats responded with an 8-0 run of their own before Byon scored her fourth bucket of the quarter. ACU would go on to score four more points before Ally Criddle scored a three; however, the final two minutes would go scoreless for both teams, finishing the quarter with a 56-32 advantage for the Wildcats.
UVU opened the fourth quarter strong, opening the quarter with a 6-0 run (with four points coming from Tafisi). After a 6-0 run in response from ACU, the Fano and Tafisi combined for a 5-0 Wolverine run to make the score 62-43. However, the Wildcats used a 7-0 run to keep their distance.
Despite the score, the Wolverines would still fight until the end as they finished regulation out with a 7-2 run to end the game with a final of 71-50.
The Wolverines next travel to Nacogdoches, Texas on Thursday, Jan. 19 to take on the WAC third-place Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (14-3, 4-1). The game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. MT and can be streamed on ESPN+.
Sophomore at UVU. Writer for the UVU review, statistician for UVU ESPN+, and play-by-play commentator for UVU Men’s Lacrosse.