Women’s basketball: UVU falls just short of WAC finals in heartbreaking loss

Utah Valley University Wolverines women's basketball team against the Seattle University Red Hawks during WAC tournament game held in Las Vegas, NV, Friday March 10, 2017. (Jay Drowns/UVU Marketing)

Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics

The UVU women’s basketball team fell just one point short of the WAC title game Friday in a 61-60 loss to Seattle University. The loss came two days after the No. 6 seeded Wolverines upset No. 3 seeded Cal State Bakersfield in the quarterfinal.

Britta Hall hit two of three free throws with 20 seconds to play to put UVU up by one. Seattle’s Kaylee Best forced a foul on the ensuing possession and made both free throws, putting the Redhawks back up by one. UVU had the last shot, but Seattle’s defense locked down the 3-point line, forcing a long jump shot at the buzzer, which didn’t connect.

In spite of the final result, head coach Cathy Nixon was proud of the toughness her team showed throughout the season and especially in the tournament.

“I’ve seen these girls step to the challenge over and over and over. [I’ve spent] 22 years as a head coach and I’ve never played games with five people. We’ve started games with six people; tonight we played seven,” Nixon said. “This team has just been amazingly resilient. We have a saying, ‘adversity reveals character,’ and these girls have just handled adversity in incredible ways. It isn’t about basketball, it’s about life.”

Nixon also pointed out an important detail; this team will only be better next year as there are no graduating seniors leaving the team.

“I feel incredibly optimistic about the future of UVU women’s basketball. These girls have gotten pretty good, and we have an incredible group of recruits coming in next year. I think we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with,” said Nixon.

Hall had an awakening in the semifinal game. After only taking one shot in the quarterfinal, Hall was fearless on the 3-point line. She took eight shots from beyond the arc and made five of them, always seeming to come at a key moment when the team needed it most. Hall was also on the line taking the free throws that put the team ahead before the final possession.

“My teammates found me when I was shooting the ball well,” Hall said. “[At the free throw line] I just kept telling myself that I could do it.”

Hall played well off the bench, but other players also had impressive stats. UVU had four players with 11 points or more, with Sam Lubcke and Taylor Gordon each being just one rebound short of recording double-doubles.

UVU took the lead early and hovered around 7 points in the lead for most of the second quarter. Seattle quickly closed that gap entering the third, but the Redhawks were unable to put away the Wolverines, who kept scoring and keeping pace.

After going 1-of-11 from 3-point range in the first half, Seattle started hitting several three points and fatigue started to show as UVU made more and more mental errors. Despite all of that, the Wolverines refused to go away and the game came down to the final buzzer.

With 10 seconds left on the clock, UVU drew up a play to attack the basket, but the Redhawk defense kept Gordon and Seals outside of the 3-point line. Seals took a long shot as time expired, but it fell just short.

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