The Utah Valley women’s basketball team defeated Tarleton State on Wednesday, March 3 with a score of 67-54.
This was an impressive performance in the final regular season game for the Wolverines, playing on the road against TSU. Junior guard Maria Carvalho led all scorers with 19 points and sophomore forward Shay Fano had a strong offensive showing with 18 points to lead the Wolverines to victory.
The Wolverines came out aggressive in the first period, scoring in the paint at will. The team utilized set plays for the bigs and backdoor cuts to the basket to jump out to an early 12-2 lead. The defense was firing on all cylinders out of the gate as well, holding TSU without a made field goal for the first 7:22 of the game. The Wolverines also doubled TCU in rebounds in the first quarter, setting the tone in the paint. Riding Carvalho’s eight first-quarter points, the Wolverines finished the period dominating 18-5.
In the second quarter, TSU attempted to shut off the inside game and force the Wolverines to shoot outside shots. The Wolverines shot a respectable 3-for-9 from the three-point line and 43% from the field, doing just enough to maintain a double-digit lead. The Wolverines slowly allowed TSU to creep back in the game as they got into foul trouble, giving their opponent opportunities at the free-throw line. The team gave up a 10-0 run that allowed TSU to close the once 17-point gap between the teams to 10. Going into halftime, UVU led TSU 33-23. UVU held TSU to 14% shooting from the three-point line and outrebounded the team 20-12 in the first half, including five offensive rebounds.
In the third quarter, the Wolverines started knocking down more perimeter shots as TSU continued to attempt to seal off the inside. Coming out of halftime, they shot 3-of-5 from the three-point line as shots started to fall. However, after coming out of halftime hot, the Wolverines began to go cold shooting and fell victim to a 10-2 TSU run to close out the third period. Still, Fano provided the offensive spark in the third, scoring eight of her 18 points in the quarter. Despite yet another big run from TSU, UVU held a 50-41 lead heading into the final period.
In the final quarter of play, the Wolverines made the key plays when they mattered. TSU again began to close the gap, persistent in their will to come back in this game. The once 17-point lead was cut to just three as the Wolverines went through a difficult stretch of two minutes and 40 seconds without scoring. As TSU had all of the momentum, juniors Kayla Anderson and Nehaa Sohail both hit key three-pointers to create distance on the scoreboard. With the help of these key shots, the Wolverines rallied for their own 8-0 run to permanently put the game out of reach. The Wolverines’ rebounding continued to be a factor down the stretch as they ended with a +15 margin in the rebounding column. Defense and rebounding helped to put this persistent TSU team away as the Wolverines held TSU to 20% shooting from the three-point line as well.
As the regular season has now concluded, the Wolverines are riding a five-game winning streak heading into the conference tournament. Sitting at the number two spot in the conference, there are high hopes for this team as they would need to win the tournament to secure an NCAA tournament berth. The WAC tournament will be held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas from March 10 through March 13.