UVU visits WAC Midwest to face Kansas City, Chicago State

WOLVERINEGREENDOTCOM Sophomore center Sam Loggins
Sophomore center Sam Loggins

Jan. 22, 2014

Thurs. at Kansas City: Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats

Sat. at Chicago State: Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats

OREM, Utah -- Utah Valley University will embark to the eastern border of the WAC's footprint when it faces off with Kansas City and Chicago State in a pair of road contests this week. UVU will meet the Kangaroos of UMKC for the first time on Thursday at 6 p.m. MT, while a reunion with former Great West Conference rival CSU awaits the Wolverines on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The quick road swing comes on the heels of two UVU (3-14, 0-4 WAC) home losses last week. Facing the top two teams in the WAC standings, the Wolverines fell to conference unbeaten Idaho, 96-55, and came up just short two days later against Seattle U, the defending regular season champion, by a score of 75-67.

The Last Meeting
Utah Valley63
Chicago State55
February 23, 2013
Chicago, Illinois
UVU women clinch share of GWC title with road victory
The Utah Valley University women's basketball team earned at least a share of the Great West Conference regular season title with a 63-55 road win at Chicago State Saturday night. Senior Sammie Jensen led the Wolverines (12-14, 6-1 GWC) with 18 points and 21 rebounds.

True freshman Rhaiah Spooner-Knight led Utah Valley in scoring in both contests, making it six straight games that she has led the Wolverines in the points column. The Hamilton, New Zealand, native scored 10 against Idaho before putting up a game-high 18 on SU last Saturday. The two double figure scoring performances pushed Spooner-Knight's season scoring average to 10.1 ppg, which makes her the third Wolverine to average double digits this year.

Katie Kuklok, who missed both games last week due to injury, still paces the squad with an 18.7 ppg average, while Tina Doughty is next at 10.9 ppg. Sophomore center Sam Loggins averaged 12.5 ppg between last week's games and pushed her scoring average to 6.1 ppg.

Kansas City (6-12, 2-3 WAC) also comes into the week off a pair of losses. The Kangaroos dropped a 65-50 decision at Texas-Pan American last Thursday and suffered a 106-77 setback at the hands of New Mexico State.

One bright spot in Saturday's loss to the Aggies came in the play of first Preseason All-WAC selection Eilise O'Connor. A senior guard, O'Connor scored 35 points in Las Cruces and set a new WAC record for free throws made after going 22-of-23 from the foul line. She currently sits atop the WAC in scoring at 20.8 ppg.

"O'Connor is a real key to everything they do on the offensive end," said UVU head coach Cathy Nixon. "We'll just need to do a good job collectively of keeping in front of her and limiting her open looks."

On the year, UMKC holds a 5-4 at home including a 77-65 victory over Seattle U in early January. The Kangaroos are under the tutelage of second-year head coach Marsha Frese -- sister of Maryland head coach Brenda Frese who led the Terrapins to the 2006 NCAA National Championship.

Utah Valley and Kansas City have never met on the hardwood with the Kangaroos representing the only WAC member never faced by the Wolverines in their 10 Division I seasons.

UVU will transition from a first-time meeting to a familiar foe when it faces Chicago State (3-15, 0-5 WAC) on Saturday at the Jones Convocation Center. The rivalry from the GWC carried over to the WAC when both institutions joined the league over the summer. The Wolverines are 7-8 against the Cougars in 15 meetings all-time, a record that includes a 2-4 mark in the Windy City. UVU swept both meetings last season, earning a 71-38 victory at home and a 63-55 win on the road.

Leading the Cougars are two juniors in guard Tierra Williams and forward Paris Williams. Tierra Williams holds the highest scoring average on the team this season with a 14.3 ppg average while Paris Williams is not far behind at 12.3 ppg.

The Cougars enter the week on a three-game losing streak after dropping each game of a three-game, WAC road trip. CSU fell to UMKC (83-60), NM State (82-61), and another former GWC rival in Texas-Pan American (66-44).

"We've been playing Chicago State since back in the Independent days and then going back to the Great West," said Nixon. "We're very familiar with one another in a lot of ways. We've learned that they are going to be aggressive and athletic and will try to pressure the basketball. We've just got to try stick to our game and control the tempo."

The Wolverines will close out a stretch that featured five of seven games at home over the next two weeks when they return home for a three-game homestand. NM State and UTPA will be on hand in Orem next week while the second pass through WAC play gets underway Thursday, Feb. 6 when Grand Canyon visits the UCCU Center.