An exhibition game was held at the UCCU Center on Saturday, Oct. 26, as the Utah Valley University women’s basketball team hosted Western Colorado. It might have been an exhibition game, but the Wolverines showed that they will be an exciting team to watch — sending WCU packing 68-37.
The Mountaineers entered this game after finishing a very impressive season of 16-11 and 12-10 in their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The team consists of six freshmen and only one senior.
The first half of play was all UVU, outscoring the Mountaineers 28-10. Wolverines head coach Dan Nielson emphasized a change to man defense over the off-season and it has seemed to pay off in a major way. The Wolverines forced nine turnovers in the half, scoring four points off of said turnovers. Overall, the Mountaineers committed 12 turnovers, although the Wolverines beat them in that statistic, with 13.
A full-court press near the end of both periods added the extra pressure the Wolverines needed to pull away from the Mountaineers.
Two impressive areas on the offense stood out in bench scoring and points scored in the paint — UVU led both categories. 12 points in the paint compared the WCU’s two, and 10 bench points compared to WCU’s two as well.
“I’m hoping to see more outside shots, but we want to get the ball in the paint and I was really pleased with that,” said Nielson.
The second half is where the Mountaineers found their groove and put some points on the board. 17 points, five of those accomplished with seconds on the clock to end the third period. Junior forward Katie Dalton and freshman guard Hannah Cooper led WCU with eight points a piece through three periods. Two more Mountaineer players were able to contribute to the scoreboard of 52-27 to end the third.
The Wolverines would continue to show off their amazing scoring abilities with their best period yet. While the Mountaineers were scoring 17 points in the third, UVU was scoring 24. WCU shot 40 percent from the field, an improvement of 30.9 percent, and shot 50 percent from behind the arc — 3-6 after going 0-12 from deep.
Sophomore forward Eve Braslis led the Wolverines in points scored with 14 to go along with seven rebounds and two assists. Rebounds were plentiful with sophomore center Josie Williams pulling down 11 and freshman center Megan Jensen snatching 10 herself.
“I couldn’t be happier with the effort and energy,” said Nielson. “With our team we’re just trying to get where we are consistent and we are consistent with our effort and our energy.”
The Wolverines would put the game away with impressive stats all over the board. To add to the above mentioned stats, UVU also accomplished an impressive 51 rebounds, 17 second chance points and 18 fast break points. 5-7 from behind the arc is definitely a part of the Wolverines game that coach Nielson is looking to improve as well the 17 turnovers.
An away game will officially kick off the Wolverines season when they play UC Santa Barbara in California on Nov. 5. The home opener will take place four days later when they host fellow Utah school Southern Utah University on Nov. 9, at 4 p.m. MST.