While you were away: Women’s basketball upsets GCU in 2OT

Utah Valley women’s basketball team, despite some losses, has played well over the last month.

Jaeden Brown drives past a GCU defender (Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics).

The Utah Valley women’s basketball team (4-11, 1-3 Western Athletic Conference) has competed well over the last month, competing in every game, including a 65-63 win over the Grand Canyon University Lopes (currently 11-4, 3-1) in a double-overtime thriller on Dec. 29 at the UCCU Center in Orem, Utah.

After a battle between the Wolverines and Lopes, GCU went up 48-46 with 46 seconds remaining in regulation before Shay Fano drew a foul and knocked in a pair of free throws to force overtime. Both teams continued to fight over the course of the two overtimes until a couple of game-clinching free throws by Kaylee Byon helped the Wolverines pull out the 65-63 win on their home court.

Jaeden Brown led way for the Wolverines, notching a 20-20 game along with four assists, four blocks, and six steals. Fano was the second-leading scorer with 13 points (went 4-4 from the line) and eight rebounds. Ally Criddle and Byon also scored in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively. 

The Wolverines capitalized in the paint with 34 points and scored 19 points off turnovers.

Don’t let the Wolverines’ record fool you about how good this team is. Since their 76-72 victory over the Northwest Nazarene Nighthawks (7-7) on Dec. 10, the Wolverines haven’t lost by more than 10 points. The Wolverines pushedthe likes of Fresno State (8-9), New Mexico State (8-8, 3-1), and California Baptist University (7-8, 3-1) to their limits since that mark. 

The Wolverines were almost able to mount a comeback win over the Florida State University Bulldogs on Dec. 17 after trailing 27-15 at halftime. UVU was able to fight their way back into the game, outscoring FSU 33-26 in the second half but didn’t have enough time to overcome the early deficit, ending the game with a score of 53-48. Criddle had 15 points and six rebounds for the Wolverines (both team-highs) while Eleyana Tafisi had eight assists.

UVU found themselves in another tight-knit matchup against the New Mexico State University Aggies on Jan. 4. Entering the third quarter down 30-24, the Wolverines outscored the Aggies 21-10 to take a 45-40 lead. However, NMSU rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring UVU 17-12 to end regulation and send the game into overtime where the Aggies shut out the Wolverines 6-0 to win 63-57. Brown led way for UVU in this matchup, scoring 23 points and clocking 17 rebounds. Tafisi dished out eight assists. 

Despite falling 69-61 to the California Baptist University Lancers on Jan. 7, the Wolverines hung close with the Lancers for much of the first half and kept themselves in the game until the end. Fano led the Wolverines with 19 points and eight rebounds.

Before the win against the Lopes, the Wolverines also defeated the University of Idaho Vandals 59-57 (6-9) on Dec. 21.

At the time of reporting, Brown was averaging 14.6 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, and 31 blocks (all team-highs). Fano was averaging 10.4 points per game on the season while leading the team in three-pointers made with 18. Tafisi led the team in assists and steals with 70 and 34, respectively. 
The Wolverines next play the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds (7-7, 3-0) on Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. MT in Cedar City, Utah before returning home to face the Abilene Christian University Wildcats (8-7, 2-2) on Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. at the UCCU Center. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+.

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