The Utah Valley women’s basketball team fell to Stanford in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 87-44.
This was the Wolverines’ first NCAA tournament appearance, squaring off against the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. Junior center Josie Williams was the high scorer, dropping 18 points to go along with her five rebounds. In a difficult game offensively, Williams was the only player to score in double figures. Gaining experience in their first NCAA tournament appearance, this was a major building block for this developing UVU team.
From the tip, the Wolverines struggled to contain the high octane offense of Stanford. UVU quickly fell prey to an 11-1 run by the Cardinal. The Wolverines struggled getting their own offense going as well, shooting an ice-cold 21% from the field. The bright spot of the period was the Wolverines’ 3-point shooting, as the team netted 50% of their shots behind the arc. Despite their own shooting, the Wolverine defense struggled to close out on Stanford shooters, who shot a blistering 7-of-11 from behind the arc in the first period alone. The Wolverines found themselves trailing early by a score of 29-9 at the end of the first.
Opening up the second period, the Wolverines continued to struggle against the 3-point barrage from the Cardinal. UVU struggled to rotate on shooters and allowed Stanford to go 5-for-10 from three in the quarter, continuing the shooting onslaught. The Wolverines’ cold shooting persisted through halftime as they netted only 4-of-13 attempts in the period. Heading into halftime the Wolverines trailed by a substantial margin, 20-53.
Williams was the high scorer at the half, with seven points in a poor offensive team display. In the first half, UVU shot 26% from the field. However, the Wolverines were knocking down a majority of 3-point attempts, splashing 60% from behind the arc. They held their own on the glass as well, only trailing 20-15 on the glass against a very tall Stanford team.
Opening the second half, the Wolverines looked to close the gap one play at a time. They began forcing the issue, attempting to get to the free-throw line. The Wolverines had 10 attempted free-throws in the period, attacking the basket and drawing fouls.
The Wolverine defense began to pick up as they held the Cardinal to 18 points in the period and forced four turnovers. Despite the emphasis on inside scoring, the Wolverine offense simply could not get going as they shot 2-for-13 in the quarter.
The 3-point shots were not falling either, as the team netted just 1-of-5 attempts. Through three quarters the Wolverines’ stagnant offense inhibited any means of a comeback attempt. The team trailed 71-32 with slim chances of a comeback heading into the fourth.
In the fourth period, Williams took life on the offensive end. She scored eight of her 18 points in the period, being aggressive on the interior looking to attack. The Wolverine defense had its best performance of the game in the period as well, holding the Cardinals scoreless in the first 2:54 of the period and allowing only 16 points.
The Wolverines maintained the lowest point differential in a quarter in the fourth period, being outscored by only four. UVU shot 4-for-12 from the field as the offense slightly improved in an otherwise nightmarish game offensively. With an insurmountable lead facing them, the Wolverines fell 87-44 at the final buzzer.
With the loss to Stanford, the Wolverines season has now ended. Heading into next season, experience and a respectable performance on the glass are key takeaways that the Wolverines can build off of. The Wolverines finished the season with a record of 13-7, and head coach Dan Nielson will look to build off the teams first tournament appearance, with all five of the Wolverine starters returning.
Sports Editor and Senior Staff Writer
Junior at Utah Valley University majoring in Communications with emphasis in Journalism and Media