UVU WBB falls to ACU on senior night, ends season at 10-19

Reading Time: 2 minutes Utah Valley fell to Abilene Christan 81-50 on senior night, ending their season at 10-19 and will miss the WAC Tournament next week.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Utah Valley Women’s Hoops needed a win over Abilene Christan and a UTRGV win over Southern Utah to make the WAC Tournament that is behind held in Las Vegas next week. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, a hot shooting effort from ACU ended those dreams and the Wolverines 2023-24 season on senior night.

Utah Valley kept it close with the Wildcats in the first quarter and a good part of the second quarter before the Wildcats pulled away early. Trailing 25-21, Utah Valley was within reach to pull off the upset.

But ACU was going to crush the Wolverines’ hopes early, going on a 20-1 run to take a 45-24 lead heading into the second half.

This large lead was thanks to freshman guard Payton Hull of ACU who dropped 19 points on 7-9 shooting in the first half alone, nearly equaling the Wolverines’ point total.

ACU’s shooting was spread throughout the Wildcats roster where the team shot 12-15 in the second quarter.

The second half would result in the same for both teams, with Utah Valley missing shots and ACU simply not missing much.

The Wolverines were able to hold Hull to just two more points, but the rest of the Wildcats took over.

While Utah Valley did have a substantial amount of turnovers less than ACU, the Wildcats dominated the glass with a +20 rebound advantage at one point in the fourth quarter.

Utah Valley ultimately would fall to the Wildcats 81-50 for the final buzzer of the season.

Tahlia White led UVU in scoring with 14 points on 4-13 shooting and 2-8 from beyond. the arc.

“Credit to Abilene, they shot it well. Unfortunately, it was a similar thing to our other games where we missed free throws, layups, other open shots and I didn’t love our defense,” head coach Dan Nielson said following the loss.

Any season-ending loss is tough for any team to swallow, whether you are a top-10 team in the nation, or a team fighting for a conference tournament seed.

Utah Valley did see improvement over last season after losing their best player in Shay Fano who transferred to Grand Canyon. The 2022-23 Wolverines had just six wins last season to this year’s 10, including a win over top-ranked Cal Baptist.

The Wolverines honored their three players after the game: senior Jenna Dick, senior Liana Kaitu’u, and junior Elina Tausinga. Utah Valley also recognized Abilene Christan’s seniors before the game during player introductions.

While UVU had chances to make the tournament with multiple close losses this season, the improvement is well-noticed. Head coach Dan Nielson’s fifth season with the Wolverines comes to a close as he looks to the transfer portal to replace Dick and Kaitu’u and continue to improve the record for the third consecutive year.

“We didn’t improve as much as I would’ve liked to, but I believe with the people coming back we can make a big jump. We did make some good strides and had people step up,” Nielson said.

Utah Valley will have three senior players next year in Abby Conlee, Ally Criddle, and Eleyana Taifisi to lead the charge for the Wolverines.