March 13, 2014
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LAS VEGAS -- The Utah Valley University women's basketball team held a two-possession lead minutes into the overtime period against second-seeded Bakersfield Wednesday night in the first round of the WAC Tournament, but the Roadrunners rallied to stave off the upset bid and top the Wolverines 65-63.
The game, which closed out day one of the Tournament, featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes to go along with a score line that wasnearly identical. UVU (7-23) and CSUB (19-10) each scored 28 points in the first half and 27 more in the second, with the `Runners 10-8 advantage in overtime proving the difference.
The Wolverines got a career night from center Sam Loggins who closed out her sophomore campaign with a career-best 28 points. She completed the double-double with 12 rebounds. Meanwhile, true freshman Rhaiah Spooner-Knight validated her selection to the WAC's All-Newcomer Team with a 10-point, 17-rebound performance. Spooner-Knight's previous best on the glass was 12.
"I couldn't be more proud of the girls tonight," said Utah Valley head coach Cathy Nixon. "No matter what we've asked them to do they've done it with all their heart. Sam Loggins was amazing. She's been putting in hours and hours of extra time and what you saw tonight was a result of that. It's not easy being a student athlete and carrying the hours that they do and working like they do."
Loggins and Spooner-Knight finish the season with two and four double-doubles, respectively.
After the game trickled into the extra period, UVU got off to a hot start behind a jumper from Spooner-Knight and a score in the paintfrom senior Whitney Jenkins, giving the Wolverines a 59-55 lead. CSUB's Erika Williams hit a couple freebies to draw her team back to within two on the next trip down, but UVU got a point back on a Loggins free throw all the while draining over a minute off the clock thanks to two offensive rebounds.
But the `Runners got two more free throws from Williams and forced a stop on the Wolverine end, holding possession with 50 seconds left. Tyonna Outland took the inbounds pass and rose up to bury a contested jump shot from 17 feet. The bucket put CSUB in front 61-60 with 37 seconds left, putting the pressure on the Wolverines.
UVU came up empty on its next couple possessions though, allowing CSUB to seal the game at the foul line. Spooner-Knight scored one last ditch layup and went 1-of-2 from the foul line down the stretch, but it wasn't enough to overcome the `Runners who ended the game on an 8-3 spurt.
"It's disappointing to come up short, but it's important to recognize the strides we've made this season even though it doesn't show in our record," said Kuklok. "We all believed that we would be playing for a championship this week."
Leading 52-49 after a Loggins baseline jumper, the Wolverines conceded back-to-back buckets as Bakersfield regained the lead at 53-52 with only 3:36 to play. Loggins again came through, dropping home a left-handed layup on the other end. A stop and a Georgia Agnew free throw gave the Wolverines a two-point advantage with 2:20 to go, but the `Runners' Dajy Vines got a tough shot to drop before the shot clock sounded to level things at 55-55 with 1:50 to go.
Three straight empty possessions between the two teams left Bakersfield with the basketball and only 30 seconds showing on the clock. After holding for the final shot, CSUB's Outland was whistled for an offensive foul driving to the basket to return possession to UVU with 4.3 seconds still showing. Looking for one last attempt, Jenkins attempted a heave from half court, but saw the shot tipped away to end regulation.
Jenkins is one of two Wolverine seniors who saw their UVU careers come to an end Wednesday night. Fellow senior Kyra Prause also suited up for the final time in a Utah Valley uniform.
Behind 14 first-half points from Loggins, Utah Valley led for much of the first half and never trailed beyond the 13:06 mark. The Wolverines used an 8-3 run late in the frame to pull ahead by as many as seven, getting to its largest lead after Whitney Jenkins beat the shot clock with a midrange jumper. Rhaiah Spooner-Knight and Georgia Agnew each converted shots insidewhile Loggins tallied her 14th point of the half during the run.
"I put in hours everyday working with Coach Walt (Hopkins) and he's helped me with my game and tonight the shots just fell," said Loggins of her career night.
But Bakersfield answered, covering a 28-21 deficit over the final four minutes of the half. UVU went without a field goal during that span as the `Runners ran off seven consecutive points to send things into the halftime break level at 28-28.