Wolverines come up short in battle against GCU

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The Utah Valley women’s basketball team dropped one at home against Grand Canyon on Saturday, Feb. 13, with a final score of 72-62.

This was the second game of a back-to-back against GCU. Turnovers and missed shots down the stretch were the nail in the coffin as the Wolverines’ five-game win streak was snapped. Junior Madison Grange scored a career-high 13 points off the bench in the loss.

The Wolverines were up against a tenacious GCU defense, fighting the full court press and double teams throughout the game. Coming out of the gate the Wolverines struggled against the defensive pressure and fell to an early 7-1 deficit. However, it would not take long to find their footing as the offense went on a 7-0 run to take the lead. Grange provided a spark off the bench, helping the Wolverines take an early lead. The Wolverines looked to sophomore Shay Fano and Grange on offense as the two combined for 11 of the team’s 15 first quarter points.

Coming out in the second quarter, the Wolverines looked to counter the GCU press by pushing the tempo on offense. Junior guard Maria Carvalho took control of the ball and pacing of the game, helping to break the full court pressure of the GCU defense. On offense the Wolverines looked to push the ball inside, forcing the issue. The Wolverines were able to get to the foul line in the first half, shooting 8-of-12 from the charity stripe. Heading into halftime, the score was 31-25 with UVU on top.

The Wolverines played well on offense; however, their defense simply could not stop the hot shooting of the Antelopes in the third quarter. The Antelopes shot a scorching 75% from the field in the period. Carvalho again pushed the tempo and tried to get the Wolverine offense going, knocking down two triples in the quarter. The stifling GCU defense was able to force five of the Wolverines’ 17 turnovers in the period, double-teaming and playing the passing lanes. Unable to match the hot shooting of GCU, the Wolverines fell behind 55-47.

Both teams came out letting it fly from the three-point line in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines, led by Carvalho, went on a furious 8-0 run to retake the lead. UVU actually led 60-57 midway through the fourth quarter. Both teams were shooting efficiently, and it was a back-and-forth scoring affair. After re-taking the lead, however, the Wolverine offense cooled off. They went on a five and a half minute scoring drought down the stretch as GCU buried shot after shot to close out the game, finishing on a back-breaking 15-2 run. In the end, the Wolverines dropped a tightly contested conference matchup 72-62. 

The season series is now split at 1-1 as the Wolverines sit one game behind the Antelopes at the No. 3 spot in the WAC. The Wolverines had four players in double figure scoring. Carvalho led the team in scoring with 15 points, Fano added in 13 points, Nehaa Sohail put up 14, and Grange contributed 13 points off the bench. It was a balanced offensive effort that came up just short in the end. As a team the Wolverines shot an impressive 47% from the field but gave up 17 turnovers that resulted in 25 GCU points.

The Wolverines will look to bounce back on Friday, Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m. MT against New Mexico State.