Second half run propels Wolverines to win over in-state foe
OREM, Utah — When the Utah Valley University women’s basketball team lost their exhibition match by 14 points to Division II Colorado State University-Pueblo that it was going to be a long season. They followed that up with a 16-point loss to BYU to start their season. However, the Wolverines have responded in a big way. UVU picked up their fourth straight win on Saturday afternoon with a 77-63 win over in-state foe Dixie State University in the PE Building.
“Every game just has a different personality to it,” UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. “This is one where it wasn’t pretty. First half is one where we hope to learn from and put behind us. I think we learned again that when we come out and play with some urgency on the defensive end things seem to come together for us a little bit.”
Nixon is referring to the slow start the Wolverines got off to in the first half. The Red Storm jumped out to a 9-2 lead early, thanks to Aliya Smith who scored five of those seven points. It was then that Nixon went to her bench and got a spark that kept the Wolverines in it. Karlee Norris scored six of her eight points to help keep UVU in the game early. The Wolverines took the lead 12-11 on a layup by Rhaiah Spooner-Knight, who had 11 points and nine rebounds, with 2:35 left to play in the first quarter.
“Karlee is going to be a player that is key for us down the road,” Nixon said. “She’s been recovering from injury and is just getting back into condition so it was great to be able to play her some today and hopefully she will be able to continue to get her conditioning and get her strength up and we’ll be able to play her in the rotation.”
UVU found themselves down at halftime 31-28 but Nixon and her staff really challenged their players to pick up the intensity and the aggressiveness. It worked. Sam Loggins scored two quick baskets, Georgian Agnew and Rebecca MaWhinney got to the free throw line and UVU took a 35-33 lead and never looked back. Mariah Seals also got going in the second half as she scored 13 of her game-high 16 points to help the Wolverines pull away.
“Mariah got going a little bit in the second half,” Nixon said. “She was able to go down and get some layups and we made some shots.
UVU really put the game away at the free throw line in the second half as they were 11 for 15 and they forced 10 Red Storm turnovers.
“We knew we had to pick it up,” Seals said “Because what we were doing in the first half was not great. It was not good compared to what we have been doing and we knew how good we are as a team. We just knew we had to pick it up on the defensive end and the offense would come .”
Taylor Mann and Chermayne Moore both scored in double digits for Dixie State with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Wolverines will look to get pick up their fifth straight win on Monday when they host the University of San Francisco out of the West Coast Conference at 7 p.m. MT in the UCCU Center.
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