Photo by Mykah Heaton
As the calendar turns to a new year, the UVU women’s basketball team looks to build off its strong finish in nonconference play. With the arrival of a new conference season, here is a look back at some of the biggest storylines from the 15-game nonconference slate.
Ending 2016 the right way
To begin the season, UVU dropped each of its first six contests, three against in-state foes. The Wolverines picked up their first win of the year at home against the Pepperdine Waves. In the victory, Mariah Seals scored 23 points to go along with eight assists. Following two close losses, the Wolverines won four out of six, including three straight at home, to close out the month of December.
Sam Lubcke named Western Athletic Conference player of the week
When UVU notched back-to-back victories over the Southern Utah Thunderbirds and the Denver Pioneers, the WAC named UVU center Sam Lubcke conference player of the week. She posted 18 points (8-of-10 FG) in the victory over the Thunderbirds. The efficient play continued with 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against Denver. The junior from Murray Bridge, Australia will play a key role in the Wolverines’ conference performance.
There are a number of Wolverines who have made great strides from last year. Junior guard Taylor Gordon has increased her points per game average by almost 10 points per contest this season. Mariah Seals has reached double figures in all but one game and is on pace to lead UVU in scoring for an amazing third straight year.
Although the WAC regular season matches will ultimately be the measuring stick in a successful season, the results against fellow Utah squads are always interesting. Aside from a 100-52 loss to the University of Utah, the contests were competitive. Against the BYU Cougars, the Wolverines were leading 22-19 early but the Cougars went on an 18-2 run late in the 4th quarter to win 68-50.
UVU led early and often against the Weber State Wildcats, but missed a game tying shot as time expired, falling 64-61. The Wolverines were able to defeat SUU on the road 70-64 but fell to the Utah State Aggies 56-45. Taking on the in-state schools proved that UVU can compete throughout, despite faltering down the stretch.
“I felt like for three quarters we beat them,” said UVU head coach Cathy Nixon after the Weber State game. “In the fourth quarter, I thought we weren’t tough.”
Maintaining that toughness for a full 40 minutes will benefit the Wolverines as they journey through the highs and lows of conference play.