A rollercoaster of defensive effort resulted in a loss for the Utah Valley women’s basketball team. The game started off with a very tenacious effort, got sloppy mid-game and finished strong — ultimately losing 57-60 against University of Nevada, Reno on Nov. 16, at home.
The Wolverines came into this game looking for their first win of the season against a tough Nevada team who were without a loss in their first two games. The two teams have met a total of four times, with the series all tied up at two a piece for the game.
A strong opening 10 minutes of basketball looked promising for UVU to get their first “W”, outscoring the Wolf Pack 15-5. A zone defense from the Wolverines, trapping the ball in the corner led to four turnovers for UN. This resulted in the Wolf Pack shooting 2-of-15 or 13.3 percent from the field and a poor 0-of-6 from deep.
On the offensive side of the ball senior forward Jordan Holland led the way, playing all 10 minutes. She was perfect from all aspects of the floor, going 2-for-2 from the field, and 1-for-1 from deep, while also bringing down three boards. Holland would finish the day with a team high 13 points, and continued to stay perfect from behind the arc .
Nevada would come out with a little more energy in the second quarter to outscore the Wolverines 18-12. Sophomore guard Essence Booker put up 10 points in the quarter, knocking down two big shots from deep. Despite the hot scoring by the Wolf pack, the Wolverines were able to maintain their lead 27-23 going into the half.
“We really focused on effort and energy,” said UVU head coach Dan Nielson. “I thought we did a nice job in the first half with our zone [defense], holding those guys to 23 points in the first half was really pretty good.”
Quarter three is where things started to get ugly for the Wolverines and where the defense got sloppy. UVU was outscored 11-to-25 thanks to some much-needed points off the bench from UN. Freshman forward Dom Phillips knocked down eight points and junior guard Jacqulynn Nakai added six of her own.
“I’ll give them credit, they adjusted, we got a little lax and gave up some shots we didn’t in the first,” said Nielson.
The defensive rollercoaster started to climb again in the final 10 minutes of play leading to several fast break opportunities. Eight fast break points for the Wolverines in the final quarter helped propel the team from down 10, to down one multiple times. Add 16 points in the paint for the Wolverines and the game in neck-and-neck down to the final minutes.
That upward defensive trend wouldn’t be enough for the Wolverines to retake the lead. The final shot by sophomore guard Maria Carvalho couldn’t breach the basket as the final horn sounded.
“I’m proud of the girls, just gotta keep growing with our basketball IQ and we’re getting there,” said Nielson.
The Wolverines will now prepare for two games on the road Thursday, Nov. 21, against UC Riverside and Wednesday, Nov. 26, at Boise State.