LAS VEGAS — The Utah Valley University women’s basketball team beat the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos by a score of 61-53 in the first round of the WAC Tournament. This win marks the first-ever tournament victory for the women’s team in the WAC.
“It feels great to sit on this podium after a win,” UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. “After last year, the buzzer going off, we set the goal to [be] advancing [through] this first round.”
UVU started the game by running into early foul trouble with all-WAC second-teamer Mariah Seals getting two fouls in the first quarter. With early foul trouble, Seals saw limited playing time for the rest of the first half, but Deijah Blanks stepped in and finished the game 3-for-5 with 11 points.
“I’m always ready to play for my teammates, whatever the situation is,” Blanks said.
UVU pulled away in the second quarter, outscoring UMKC 16-6. UVU didn’t allow UMKC a single offensive rebound after of the first minute of the quarter.
“We did a good job on the boards and didn’t allow any second opportunities,” Coach Nixon said.
The defense also ramped up and stopped UMKC’s Kiana Law, ending her day shooting at 4-for-10, after starting 2-for-3 in the first quarter.
Seals missed playing time early in the game, but she made up for lost time in the second half. Seals finished the first half 1-for-1 with two points, then ended the game 4-for-7 with 12 points. She was the second highest scorer behind all-WAC first-teamer Sam Loggins, who scored 10 of her 14 points in the third quarter. Loggins and Seals were responsible for all 15 UVU points in the third quarter.
“I’m proud of Sam,” said Coach Nixon. “She was aggressive and that’s what I challenged her to do. When she is, she’s pretty difficult to stop.”
With 2:13 left in the fourth quarter, UVU led by 20 points with a score of 56-36, but UMKC refused to go down without a fight. UMKC found a second wind and fought hard by switching to a full-court press and hitting their 3-point shots. UVU did enough to hold them off and won with a comfortable margin of 61-53.
“I feel like we played 37 minutes of pretty good basketball, at the end it wasn’t beautiful but I’m proud of the way we played,” Coach Nixon said.
UVU will play the top-seeded New Mexico State Aggies on Friday at noon PT. The winner will advance to the WAC Championship game.
My name is Adam Cichoski, I’m a junior at UVU studying Journalism. Sports is my passion, especially football. I’m originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. My plan after school is to pursue a job in sports journalism.