The Wolverines played their one and only WAC tournament game on Wednesday, March 13 against UMKC at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
UVU freshman forward Eve Braslis seemed to have the hot hand in the first half, knocking down four of her six shots, totalling eight points. She also made her presence known in the paint where she pulled down five rebounds.
The first half of play came to an end in favor of UMKC, 36-30. The Roos were up by 11 points in the first quarter but the Wolverines were able to cut that lead down to six before heading to the locker room at the half. UVU shot 31 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep in the first half compared to UMKC’s 41 percent from the field and 42 percent from deep.
“I could not be more proud of our team,” said an emotional head coach Cathy Nixon. “When you’re in the trenches every day you build relationships and you really want success.”
The Wolverines upped their intensity on both ends of the floor to start the second half, which resulted in the Roos going scoreless the first two minutes of play. This gave UVU the chance to cut the lead down and tie the game at 38 just three minutes in. From there the fight really began as the lead bounced back and forth several times between the two teams.
UVU junior guard Alexis Cortez really found her stride in the second half, scoring 16 of her 22 points on 9-11 shooting. 12 of those points came from behind the arc, where she shot 4-5 from deep. On the other side of the ball, UMKC junior guard Ericka Mattingly went off for 27 points on 8-18 shooting and an impressive 7-8 from deep. She also added six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
The dagger came when the Roos went on a 12-0 run midway through the fourth quarter. The Wolverines were only down three points before that run started and by the end the score was 65-52, UVU down 13. The Wolverines would rally back to within three but it was too late. The buzzer sounded and the clock read zero, with the scoreboard reading 78-75.
The stat that stands out is the difference of free throws between the two teams. UVU shot 5-6 from the stripe compared to UMKC’s 13-17.
“We aren’t going away because we don’t have any seniors, we will just use this day to fuel us for next year,” Nixon said.
The Wolverines were predicted to be ranked eighth at the beginning of the season but proved everyone wrong when they snagged the fifth seed heading into the tournament. UVU ended their season with a record of 14-16, 8-8 in conference play, 11-5 at home and 3-10 when playing opponents on their home floor.
Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics