Nov. 19, 2011
OREM, Utah -- The Utah Valley women's basketball team kicked off Homecoming Weekend with a bang using a late, 14-0 run to grab a 68-59 win over Idaho State in its home opener at the UCCU Center Saturday afternoon. Junior Sammie Jensen paced the Wolverines, notching her first double-double of the year, while senior Jenna Johnson chipped in 15 points.
"We had to go out and get the game on the defensive end down the stretch," said UVU head women's basketball coach Cathy Nixon. "We got the stops when we needed them and were efficient on the offensive end in that key stretch."
UVU (1-1) utilized two big runs at the tail end of each half to get the victory over the Bengals (2-2). Trailing 21-14 midway through the first half, a pair of Abbie Beutler free throws sparked a 17-7 run to close out the period for the Wolverines. UVU held the Bengals without a field goal for nearly five minutes during the rally, and got solid production from Jensen, who scored six of her eight first half points on the way to a 31-31 deadlock at halftime. An 18-footer from Johnson even gave UVU a 30-29 lead with 1:04 to play, but a running hook shot by Idaho State's Kaela Oakes leveled the game just seconds before the buzzer.
Sophomore Kim Bell scored six of her eight points in the first half and grabbed five rebounds to keep the game in the balance for the Wolverines. Beutler added five points on 1-of-2 shooting, including a deep, NBA-range three towards the end of the period.
Play remained level out of the halftime break with both teams trading baskets to start the second half. The Wolverines took its largest lead to that point, a 41-35 advantage, after Erika Newbold got a layup off a nice entry-pass from Johnson. The lead was short-lived, though, as the Bengals clawed their way back, eventually jumping ahead 54-53 with just 4:39 to play when Ashleigh Vella put in a layup while being fouled, then converted the free throw to complete a three-point play.
With the game in the balance, UVU's aggressive defense and efficiency at the free throw line sparked a 14-0 run that would put the Wolverines up for good. UVU shot 10-12 from the charity stripe during the rally, while holding the Bengals without a field goal on its way to a 67-54 advantage with just 58 seconds to play which sealed the victory.
"We really had to beat Idaho State tonight," said Nixon. "They're a good team and they're aggressive and they're not going to just hand it to you. We had those stretches where we showed the things I believe that we can do, where we got the ball where we wanted it and where the kids played within themselves."
With 19 points and 13 rebounds, Jensen notched her first double-double on the young season. Johnson scored 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting while Newbold had a nice night offensively, scoring 11 points to go along with five rebounds. The Wolverines shot 41.2% on the game while shooting 71.4% from the line.
Jessa Jeppesen, coming off a 29 point performance against Boise State on Thursday night, led the Bengals with 17 points and nine rebounds.
UVU will spend the Thanksgiving holiday on the road, as it will participate in the Hilton Garden Inn Thanksgiving Classic hosted by Northern Arizona University. The Wolverines will play two games in Flagstaff, the first on Wednesday night against host NAU, and the second on Friday, Nov. 25 against Kent State.