March 3, 2012
OREM, Utah -- Senior guard Jenna Johnson scored her 1,000th career point, but the Utah Valley University women's basketball team couldn't overcome its first half shooting woes as it fell to the University of North Dakota 66-53 in its regular season finale at the UCCU Center Saturday afternoon.
"We wanted to come and lay it all out there in our last home game," said UVU head coach Cathy Nixon. "Defensively, we played a game that was worthy of a win, but offensively we just missed too many opportunities. We gave ourselves a chance late and they got some breaks and we didn't. Even though it wasn't a win we can take some momentum into the conference tournament next week because of the way the girls fought."
Baskets came at a premium early in the contest as UVU (14-14, 6-4 GWC) took an 8-6 lead with 13:09 remaining in the first half after a free throw from Alle Finch. But it was UND (19-10, 9-1 GWC) who found its offensive rhythm first, erasing the deficit with a 16-1 run that stretched to the 4:52 mark.
The Wolverines ended the half shooting just 16 percent and went 11 minutes without a field goal. A leaner from Kali Roche finally ended the Wolverines' scoring drought at 4:39, but the Fighting Sioux would take a 28-17 lead into the locker room.
But UVU, who had overcome a ten-point deficit to defeat UND in the schools' first meeting this season, looked poised for another comeback at the start of the second half. Johnson, who had only two points at halftime, sparked a rally as she scored six points in two minutes to help UVU whittle the lead to single digits. A midrange jumper from Erika Newbold brought the Wolverines to within five at 50-45. Then, after a pair of UND free throws, Sammie Jensen brought UVU within five again with a finger-roll in the lane at 4:03.
The Wolverines could not overcome the five-point hump, however. UND got a series of timely baskets and defensive stops on its way to scoring six of the game's next eight points, grabbing a 58-49 lead with just 1:22 to play. The Sioux would hold on from there for a 66-53 victory.
Though the outcome had been decided, Johnson's jumper at 1:08 provided a bright spot late in the contest for UVU. The bucket gave the senior 1,000 career points, making her just the fourth player in Utah Valley's Division I history to accomplish the feat.
"I'm really happy for Jenna," said Nixon. "Regardless of whether she's starting or coming off the bench, she has always given us her best effort. She's really grown up since she's been here and as proud as I am of her points on the court, I'm even more proud of the person she's become."
Johnson led the Wolverines with 15 points and was the lone double-digit scorer. Newbold and Abbie Beutler each added eight points while Jensen finished with seven points and a team-high eight rebounds.
UND had three players finish in double figures as Charnise Mothershed scored 15, Charnay Mothershed had 14, and Megan Lauck had 11. Charnise Mothershed also had 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.
Saturday's game was Senior Day for UVU as the Wolverines honored three seniors and a redshirt junior before the game. Guards Beutler and Johnson, and post-players Newbold and Tasha Sanborn all suited up for their final game in the UCCU Center.
With the regular season now over, UVU begins the Great West Conference tournament next week in Chicago, Ill. As the second seed, the Wolverines receive a first round bye and will play the winner of No. 3 NJIT and No. 6 Houston Baptist on Friday. UVU split the series with NJIT this season and swept HBU. Friday's game will tip at either 4 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. MT time at Chicago State's Jones Convocation Center.