Photo by Brigham Berthold
OREM, Utah—The Utah Valley University women’s basketball team lost a sloppy game 68-50 to BYU Friday night in the UCCU Center to open the season. UVU went on a run and led in the second quarter 26-19, but it didn’t last as the Cougars eventually took control of the game and improved to 7-0 all-time against the Wolverines. Here are five things to take away from the contest.
More turnovers than a bakery
The Wolverines turned the ball over 27 times against BYU, often leading to a layup for the Cougars in transition. At halftime, UVU had just nine turnovers and was in the game down by only three points. The second half was a different story with the ball being turned over 18 times.
“You turn the ball over 27 times, you’re going to have a difficult time beating anybody on our schedule,” head coach Cathy Nixon said. “I thought some of those were forced, some were just careless. We need to learn to value the basketball and we need to learn to handle pressure a little bit better. I’m confident that we’ll learn a lot from tonight.”
Open looks for Seals and Hall
In the first half, sophomore Britta Hall and junior Mariah Seals combined for 27 of UVU’s 33 points. Seals was hot from 3-point range and knocked down five to give the Wolverines a boost. In the third and fourth quarter, Hall and Seals weren’t getting the open looks they saw in the first half and combined for just six points. Hall cooled off considerably and missed her three 3-point attempts with no field goals. Fatigue may have played a role in her second-half shooting woes as this is the first game for Hall in nearly two years after returning from an LDS mission.
Party in the paint
UVU’s defense struggled to stop BYU from scoring in the paint as it scored 32 points from close range in the second half. BYU’s length was difficult to defend and the Cougars were able to feed the ball down low consistently.
“Their length was a challenge for us,” Nixon said. “But I thought we had some things that we did that disrupted them a little bit as well.”
UVU needs to address its lack of help down low in order to be successful this season. Count on junior Sam Lubcke and freshman Leya Harvey to step up.
The Wolverines had no problem getting to the free-throw line Friday night. UVU made 23 of 36 attempts, largely keeping it from being blown out as it struggled to score field goals in the second half. UVU was 8 of 8 in the third quarter and 9 of 14 in the fourth quarter. In order to win games down the stretch, the Wolverines must capitalize on their free throws.
The game was lost for UVU in the third quarter partly due to a full-court press by the Cougars. It took Hall and Seals out of their rhythm offensively and forced them to exert more energy bringing the ball up the court. Another factor was depth, due to several players getting into foul trouble.
“I think their pressure, they did a good job of taking us out of our initial action and they’re a good team,” Nixon said. “We’re lacking a little depth right now and the foul trouble put us into some deep lineups that we weren’t really accustomed to.”
Ty Bianucci is a life-long fan of the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and Golden State Warriors who started on the sports beat for The Review, but now contributes investigative stories. He, along with two of his colleagues, were awarded the Sunshine Award in 2018 by the Society of Professional Journalists.