SAN JOSE, Calif. - Despite four players in double figures and 63 percent shooting in the second half, Utah Valley couldn't overcome a slow start Thursday evening at San Jose, Calif., as it fell to San Jose State 81-72.
UVU (1-2) got off to a slow start in its first road game of the season, as it shot just 20 percent from the floor (6-30) and committed 19 turnovers in the first half.
"We dug ourselves in a pretty big hole in the first half. I was proud of the kids for continuing to battle however," UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. "We had much better looks in the second half and we made a pretty good run at it. San Jose State shot the ball extremely well and this is a lesson that we have to take to heart - that we have to be ready to go from the beginning."
The Wolverines fell behind 8-0 right out of the gate but sophomore Tina Doughty came off the bench and sparked an 8-0 UVU run to tie the game 8-all. Doughty hit two 3-pointers during the run.
The Spartans (2-0) answered back however with an 11-0 spurt of their own to take a 19-8 advantage with 10 minutes to go in the opening half. UVU continued to struggle with turnovers and missed shots in the first period as SJSU stretched its lead to as many as 21.
A late bucket from senior Sammie Jensen pulled the Wolverines to within 19 at the break (36-17).
UVU then came out of the locker room looking like a whole new team to start as it scored 10 straight points to start the second half to cut the deficit to just nine, at 36-27. Jensen led the rally with six points while junior Whitney Jenkins added the other four.
SJSU bounced right back with eight straight points, which was highlighted by back-to-back trifectas from Ta'Rea Cunnigan and Alexis Hill, to take a 44-27 lead with 15 minutes to play. The Spartans stretched their lead to as many as 20 points with 13:19 to play but the Wolverines went back to work and chipped away at the deficit over the final 13 minutes.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore Taylor Huber and Doughty later helped the Wolverines cut it 10 with 9:24 to play but that as close as UVU would get until the final minute as the Spartans took the contest by nine.
UVU shot much better from the floor in the second half as it shot a blistering 63.3 percent (19-30). The Wolverines also committed just 10 second-half turnovers to finish with 29 for the game.
Jensen led the Wolverines once again with 20 points and 14 rebounds. The double-double is her third in as many games for UVU this season. Behind her, Huber and Doughty added 15 and 11 respective points off the bench and Jenkins chipped in 13.
Cunnigan led SJSU with 25 points, while Classye James and Riana Byrd both added double-doubles with 22 points and 15 rebounds and 14 points and 17 boards respectively.
UVU will continue its current week-long Northern California road trip by taking on Santa Clara Saturday at 3 p.m. MT. The Wolverines will then conclude their trip by playing at Sacramento State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. MT.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.