Sophomore guard Maria Carvalho for Utah Valley University’s women’s basketball team isn’t typically known as a scorer, as she has been averaging just over five points per game this year.
However, Carvalho showed her value on both sides of the floor when her squad hosted the Kangaroos of the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Saturday, Jan. 4, and defeating them 62-41 to improve to 2-0 in WAC play.
Carvalho not only had the duty of slowing down UMKC senior guard Ericka Mattingly, who came in averaging 16 points per game — which ranks third in the WAC — she also poured in a career-high and season-high 19 points with three triples offensively. This game highlighted that she is not only an asset defensively, but that she also needs to be respected on the other end of the floor.
“I’ve been working really hard lately and it just feels good,” said Carvalho.
The first half was much closer than the final score may show. After scoring the first five points of the contest, UVU went scoreless for more than four minutes and missed five-straight field goals. In the first quarter, both UVU and UMKC had scoring droughts that lasted for more than three minutes. UVU shot 2-for-8 in that span, while UMKC went 1-for-6 from the floor and struggled to get anything going offensively. The Wolverines held the ‘Roos to just four points in the first 10 minutes.
Each team seemed to find its stride offensively in the second quarter. The ‘Roos found their success going backdoor, where they scored on back-to-back possessions that helped them cut into the deficit. The Wolverines answered with an 8-0 run of their own. UMKC Faced another three minute scoring drought during this time, but got two consecutive buckets at the end of the first half to cut the lead to 23-17.
UMKC came out of the break on fire, hitting on their first three shots and rattling off a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to one. The Wolverines started the second half shooting 1-for-7 from the floor. UVU got some much needed offense from senior guard Alexis Cortez when she scored five-straight points to extend the lead.
Following a technical foul that was issued to Mattingly after a non-foul call on the way to the hoop, the Wolverines ballooned their lead to 20 thanks to a 13-3 run that was sparked by triples from Carvalho and sophomore guard Madison Grange. Grange finished the night with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting while Cortez netted 16 on the evening.
After owning an 11-point lead while heading into the fourth quarter, UVU outscored UMKC 22-12 that put the game out of reach for good. A large part of this success was constant pressure on Mattingly and the ‘Roos as a whole. Mattingly finished with nine points and shot 2-of-12 from the floor. She was never able to get comfortable, something that was in the game plan for UVU.
“[Mattingly] is a really good player and she’s capable of scoring, but we thought with our length we could give her some trouble and it did,” said head coach Dan Nielsen. “A great effort by everyone who guarded her.”
Another highlight that shouldn’t be forgotten in the box score was that UVU went perfect from the line, making all 22 attempts from the charity stripe. The UVU bench also outscored the bench of UMKC 26-4.
The win secured the Wolverines four victories in a row. It’s apparent that coach Nielsen is doing something right, which he attributes to his defense that held UMKC to 25% shooting on the night.
“Defensively I feel like we’re coming together,” said Nielsen. “We’re starting to play more as a team where people don’t care about their points…the mentality and culture of our team is changing and I’m excited about that.”
“We are playing together for the first time,” said Carvalho. “We’re locked in, we’ve accepted our new staff and everything is working.”
UVU will now play their final game of a five-game home stand on Saturday, Jan. 11, when they play host to Seattle University. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. MST.
Photo by Cameron Hunsinger