Regaining that winning feeling

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Photo by Brooke Morrill

Utah Valley ends losing streak at five games

The Utah Valley University women’s basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak in blowout fashion against long-time foe Chicago State 84-62 Feb. 20.

The Wolverines were lead by the sophomore tandem of center Sam Loggins and guard Katie Kuklok, which started off the game strong and never let up, scoring 45 combined points. Loggins dropped 21 points and was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field and 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. Kuklok dropped 7-of-10 from 3-pointers and led all players with 24 points. Both were named co-players of the game.

The Wolverines, who were hoping to snap a losing streak, came out strong from the very beginning, never giving the visiting Cougars a chance to gain any ground.

Loggins scored the game’s first points on an easy layup but a Chicago State jumper tied it up, 2-2, early in the game. However, the tide changed in favor of the UVU, as the Wolverines never again let the Cougars pull even by keeping the throttle down.

“I think our first five coming out really strong really set the tone and everybody really fed off of that,” head coach Cathy Nixon said.

The Wolverines jumped out to a 21-4 lead behind the low-post domination of Loggins and the deep threat Kuklok, who was flashing shades of Larry Bird from behind the arc. UVU kept the aggressive play up for the first half and went into the locker room up 47-22.

The young Wolverine team maintained its intensity in the second half, not wanting to let another conference game slip away, as has been the case of late. Freshman guard Georgia Agnew stole an inbounds pass to start the half, which led to her hitting one of two from the free-throw line.

Kuklok again hit another three to keep the momentum in the Wolverines’ favor. Chicago State had one of the top defenses in the nation at No. 4 defending the three, but the Wolverines made them pay all night from deep, hitting 9-of-18.

The lead got up to 31 points for UVU in the second half. The Wolverines continued to play hard, forcing turnovers and knocking down shots throughout the half to ride out the victory until the buzzer. The team ended its five-game losing streak with, coincidently, its fifth-straight win over the Cougars.

The Wolverines have been in some close conference battles and have been letting victories slip away from them in the final stretch of the season. Nixon is hopeful that her team can make a run since they have been improving over the last few months, even though it hasn’t translated into additional victories yet.

“We’ve had so many different factors with injuries and inexperience,” Nixon explained. “All the circumstances and things our team has been through, it’s taken this long for our team to gel to a game like tonight, is an illustration of that process and hopefully we are peaking at the right time and playing our best basketball. We’re starting to see more of the team that I’ve always believed we could be, especially now that we’re starting to get multiple positions playing well.”

UVU closes out its inaugural WAC season on the road with the last three games away at New Mexico State, Texas Pan-American and Bakersfield.