The Utah Valley University women’s basketball team suffered its first defeat of the conference campaign when they travelled to Las Cruces, New Mexico to take on the New Mexico State Aggies. UVU entered the matchup having won all four of its first conference games, but fell 58-52.
Junior Alexis Cortez led the way for Utah Valley with 14 points while freshman Madison Grange and junior Jordan Holland both added 12. Grange’s total matched her career high while Holland had a team-high eight rebounds. Brooke Salas finished with 15 points, 18 rebounds and six assists and Gia Pack dished out eight assists to go along with 10 points for the Aggies, who had 17 assists on 19 made field goals.
The game was slow throughout, as both teams struggled to find rhythm and consistently make shots. The Wolverines shot just 19-for-55 from the field, and the Aggies fared a little worse going 19-for-57. Rebounds, however, were heavily dominated by New Mexico State, who pulled down 42 compared to UVU’s 27.
UVU battled to keep it close during the first half. After falling behind in the second quarter, the Wolverines went on a 13-3 scoring run over the final five minutes of the half, capped off by three-pointers from Grange and Cortez, to take a 23-22 lead. Monique Willis of NM State, however, had other plans as she knocked down a three-pointer of her own with four seconds left in the half to regain the lead.
The game remained close throughout the whole second half, but the Aggies slowly began to pull away late in the fourth quarter. With 3:33 left in the ballgame, NM State saw its biggest lead of the game extend to eleven after a three-pointer by Gia Pack. Down 52-41, the Wolverines made one final run in the waning moments. After a pair of clutch free throws and a corner three from Holland, UVU was back within five with only 19 seconds left, but the Aggies came up clutch from the free-throw line, draining their last six attempts to seal the victory.
Holland, who was Thursday’s hero after her game-winner beat the buzzer at UTRGV, scored nine of her 12 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday. After 11 first-half turnovers slowed down UVU’s offense in the opening half, the Wolverines turned it over just three times in the second half. NM State finished with 20 turnovers.
The win is New Mexico State’s 10th straight in the series against Utah Valley and gives the Aggies a 12-2 record all-time over the Wolverines. The two will meet again on Feb. 14 in Orem.
The Wolverines return home next week for a pair of home conference games. UVU hosts UMKC on Thursday at 11 a.m. MT in the Lockhart Arena and Chicago State next Saturday at 3 p.m. MT in the UCCU Center.
Photo courtesy of: UVU Athletics