Feb. 2, 2012
OREM, Utah -- Utah Valley never trailed and got 21 points and 10 rebounds from Sammie Jensen on its way to a 66-51 victory over Texas-Pan American in its conference home-opener Thursday night in the UCCU Center.
"We talked all week about having a defensive mentality and I thought we were very good, especially in the first half," said UVU head women's basketball coach Cathy Nixon. "We were able to take away their strengths and it really ignited our offense tonight as well."
Both UVU (11-10, 3-1 GWC) and UTPA (9-14, 2-2 GWC) suffered slow starts to begin, grinding to a 4-4 tie over the first five and a half minutes of the ballgame. But once Kaycee Mansfield dropped in a reverse layup off a feed from Whitney Jenkins, the Wolverines found their offensive rhythm.
An 8-0 run over the next four minutes pulled UVU ahead 12-4 with 11:31 to play. Then, after a free throw minutes later from the Broncs' Bianca Torre cut the Wolverine lead to 12-7, UVU pieced together a 12-2 rally highlighted by Kyra Prause's back-to-back scores--a running scoop shot in the lane followed by a corner three.
Now with a 24-9 lead with 4:24 until the break, the Wolverines scored six of the game's next ten points as it took a 32-13 lead into the locker room. Overall, UVU strung together a 28-9 run over the last 14:50 of the first half and limited the Broncs to just 17.2 percent shooting in the frame.
"Texas-Pan American has played well recently and competed with some of the top teams in our league, so we felt like we needed to set a defensive tone early," said Nixon. "We were able to control the boards, limit their second chances, and I thought we were able to control the game on the defensive end."
The Wolverines pushed the lead out to as many as 25 in the second half, but UTPA slowly chipped away at the deficit. Seven consecutive points from Torre and Keandra Goodson pulled the Broncs to within 14 at 52-38 with 6:23 to play, but UVU got huge minutes from Kali Roche down the stretch to help preserve the lead. The sophomore forward scored all six of her points on 3-of-3 shooting, grabbed two rebounds, and blocked one shot in the final six minutes of play as the Wolverines held on for a 15-point victory.
Jensen led the way with her 12th double-double on the year, and sixth in a row, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 boards. Jenkins also finished in double digits, scoring 12 points and dishing out four assists. Abbie Beutler finished with nine points, going 2-for-4 from three.
UTPA was led by 14 points from Adanna Opara.
UVU returns to action Saturday for another Great West Conference matchup, this time against Houston Baptist at 3 p.m. in the Activity Center.