Better late than never

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Photo by Brooke Morril

Utah Valley University (7-20, 4-10) women’s basketball scored 52 points of its 87 points in the second half to add a much needed Western Athletic Conference win over New Mexico State (10-17, 7-7) at the Pan American Center Feb. 27. All five UVU starters finished the game in double figures.

Georgia Agnew and Rhaiah Spooner-Knight were the difference makers as they tied for the game-high in points with 18 apiece, while Katie Kuklok chipped in with 16. Sam Loggins helped out with 14 points and nine boards, and Whitney Jenkins added to the double-digit efforts with 11 points of her own. In all, UVU got 77 of its 87 points from the starting five.

“We showed so much resiliency tonight,” head coach Cathy Nixon said. “We just kept chipping away and made the plays when we needed to. These kids work so hard and put in so much effort — they deserve a win like this. I’m very proud of this team and the character they showed tonight.”

After trailing by five at the break, the Wolverines abruptly found themselves behind by 11 when New Mexico State knocked down two quick 3-pointers to open up the second half. Those were the only two of the 17 made threes that came from Aggie players on the night. New Mexico State went 17-for-41 (41.5 percent) behind the arc to score more than half its points via the 3-pointer.

UVU weathered the storm and a 23-5 run to allowed the Wolverines to gain control. The Aggies’ advantage was five points with less than eight minutes to play when UVU scored the next seven points to recapture the lead for the first time since the Wolverines were up 15-14 with 11:51 in the first half.  New Mexico again pulled even to make it 67-67, but Jenkins followed with a basket to give UVU the edge for good.

The Wolverines extended their lead to nine points when Agnew completed a three-point play from the line, basically sealing the game. A couple late heaves from distance kept New Mexico State in the game, but the UVU made all of its free throws attempted in the final minute to close out the win.

Abby Scott put in a game-high 29 points and hit eight of the Aggies’ 17 3-pointers. Her teammates, Sasha Weber and Danesia Williamson, added 15 each.  The 70-point mark is usually translates to a win for New Mexico State, as it suffered only its second loss this season when scoring 70 or more.

UVU continues wrapping up the season on its final road trip by traveling to Edinburg, Texas to face Texas-Pan American on Saturday.

The Broncs are currently trying to make history by becoming the first UTPA women’s team to finish the season with a winning record since the school joined the Division I ranks in the 1985-86 season. The Broncs have only had a .500 record once, which came in the 2004-05 season.

The Wolverines were upended by the Broncs, 64-54, in the first game between the two this season.  UTPA and UVU began competing against one another during the 2004-05 season, and the Wolverines lead the all-time series 12-7. Both teams are jockeying for seeding in the in the WAC tournament, though UVU would need to win out and get help from Kansas City to move out of the 7-seed.