Furious comeback falls short

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Photo by Gabi Campbell

A 69-65 defeat was yet another heartbreaker for the Utah Valley women’s basketball team. The loss brought the team’s standing down to 1-9 in Western Athletic Conference play and 4-19 on the season.

The Wolverines showed a lot of grit after trailing by 23 points on the road in the first half to the Seattle University Redhawks (12-12, 7-4 WAC) to make it a close game.

UVU trailed by that margin with 4:06 left in the first half but trimmed it down to 14 (43-29) before the first-half buzzer rang. The vicious rally got the Wolverines within one point with 2:21 left in the game. The comeback was stopped short when two Seattle players combined to make four free throws. The combination closed out the game and UVU was left with yet another close game.

A trio of double-digit scorers for UVU, led by freshman Georgia Agnew’s season-high 17-point, eight-rebound, five-assist effort, kept the visitors in it.  Senior Whitney Jenkins had 15 points of her own on 6-for-10 shooting from the field, including 1-for-3 behind the arc, while freshman Rhaiah Spooner-Knight scored 14.  Sophomore Sam Loggins was a point short of joining the trio in double digits.

The first half was a rough one for UVU as the team shot 11-for-28 (39.3 percent) from the field and 1-for-5 from the 3-point line, which created a hole that was too deep for the Wolverines to climb out of.  The second half was a lot better for UVU as evidenced in its 15-for-31 (48.4 percent) shooting and two makes in four attempts from 3-point range.  It didn’t help that Seattle shot the lights out in the first half, going 18-for-32 (56.3 percent) from the field.

“It feels like we’re telling the same story every night where the game just comes down to a few possessions,” UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. “But what an incredible effort from our team tonight. They never backed down, showed tremendous resiliency, and showed that we can compete with any team in this league on any given night. We don’t like moral victories, but I’m very proud of the way the kids competed tonight amidst adversity.”

UVU scratched and clawed its way back to make it a competitive game, which has been the story all season long, but the Wolverines just can’t seem to get over the hump.  They seem to be a piece or two away from being a real competitive basketball team.

Ready for the Wolverines on the second game of their road trip is the WAC’s hottest team, the Idaho Vandals (17-7, 10-0 WAC).  They were only a .500 team in non-conference play (7-7) but their play in the WAC has seemed unstoppable with their unbeaten streak of 10 games, while boasting a plus-12.2 total points advantage over their opponents.

UVU will need to go to Idaho ready to play tight defense against Stacey Barr (17.9 points per game), a league Player of the Year candidate. The Vandals, as a team, are averaging a league best 74.4 points per game and that number improves in conference play to 81.5.

Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. from the Cowan Center.