Maria Carvalho scored a career-high 23 points, added six rebounds and four assists to her record as Utah Valley won their fifth consecutive game this season. The Wolverines beat Grand Canyon 63-51 in Orem on Friday, Feb. 12, shooting 48 percent from the field and hitting 23-of-48.
UVU had a big advantage in the paint, out-scoring GCU 32-12 and outrebounding the Lopes 42-21. Junior center Josie Williams had a dominant game down low, adding 14 points and 12 rebounds.
UVU also showed defensive prowess by holding a high-scoring GCU team — who came into the game with an average of 76.7 points per game — to a total of 51 points. UVU also didn’t allow GCU’s top scorer Katie Scott any points until she stepped out to hit a 3-pointer with 2:01 left in the fourth quarter. UVU limited GCU’s top three scorers to a combined 10 points.
“I’m really proud of our team,” said UVU head coach Dan Nielson. “Grand Canyon is really good. They have that record for a reason and coach [Molly] Miller runs a really tough system and you can see the mindset she’s put into her team. The thing with this year is that we can enjoy this for about an hour but then we’re back to watching film and right back at it. They’re going to make some adjustments so we’ve really got to be ready. But I’m definitely very happy with the win.”
Both teams started off slow, but it was UVU that set the tone early. On their first possession, the Wolverines grabbed three offensive rebounds and Williams drew a foul down low, sending her to the free throw line. UVU would continue to play with this same physicality throughout the game making, 13-of-16 from the charity stripe.
The Wolverines led by 12 points with four minutes to go in the first half but that lead was quickly cut to four by a GCU 8-0 run. The Wolverines would find a much needed spark off the bench from junior guard Madison Grange when she drove in for a layup and got fouled with 1:36 left on the clock. Grange made the free throw to complete the 3-point play and on the next Wolverine possession Grange hit a jumper from the left side of the block to put UVU up 28-22 going into halftime.
After GCU tied the game at 30 in the third quarter, Carvalho led the way to a 6-0 run for UVU, finding a streaking Grange for an assist on an easy layup and scoring two buckets of her own. The Wolverines never looked back from that point on in a game that would see them lead for 34 of the 40 total minutes.
UVU improves to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in conference play. The second game of the series against GCU is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. and can be viewed on the WAC Digital Network.
Brice Larson is currently a Junior at UVU majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and media studies. He enjoys everything about sports and one day hopes to become a college football analyst and play by play commentator.