UVU basketball: SUU T-Birds hold off Wolverines in in-state battle
Shane Truskolaski, UVU Athletics
OREM, Utah — A pair of double-doubles from a duo of Utah Valley University seniors was not enough as Southern Utah University held off UVU, 71-66, on Thursday night at the UCCU Center.
Sammie Jensen finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds and Kaycee Mansfield added 16 points and 10 boards for the Wolverines (2-8), while the T-Birds (3-4) got a double-double of their own with 15 points and 14 rebounds from Kimie Hawkins.
"I was really pleased with how our kids fought back. We had some excellent stands defensively but because of their early run we had to play uphill most of the game," UVU coach Cathy Nixon said. "Southern Utah came in and played well from the tip. Hopefully we're learning from these lessons and becoming a better team because of them."
Southern Utah raced out to an early 10-point lead, getting the ball inside and scoring 18 of its first 21 points in the paint. Hailey Mandelko hit a pair of triples to extend the T-Bird lead to 16, 29-13, just past the midway point of the first half.
The Wolverines would respond though, closing out the half on an 18-4 run behind a 14-point frame from Mansfield. She scored six of her 14 on an 11-0 half-ending spurt that closed the gap to two, 33-31, by the break.
The second half started with a pair of free throws by Cydne Gray, extending the run to 13-0 and tying it for the first time since it was 2-2 less than 90 seconds in.
On the ensuing possession, Hawkins went 1-for-2 from the line to end an SUU scoring drought that lasted over six minutes. The free throw gave the T-Birds a 34-33 lead but was answered with an Alle Finch Cardwell jumper, allowing Utah Valley its first lead of the game with 19:06 to go.
Despite going over 13 minutes without a field goal — the final 7:55 of the first half and nearly six minutes into the second half — Southern Utah's largest deficit was just three points. A bucket by Mandelko with 11:49 left gave the T-Birds the lead for good.
UVU kept within striking distance, never trailing by more than seven points but was unable to get closer than two the rest of the way. Taylor Huber connected on a 3-pointer with 2:01 to go to make it 62-60 and a Jensen layup cut it back to two a minute later, but the T-Birds were able to hit 10 straight from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the outcome.
Jensen's 19-point effort leaves her seven points shy of becoming the fifth Utah Valley player in the school's NCAA era to score 1,000 career points.
The Wolverines play again Saturday when they head north on I-15 to take on Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho, at 2 p.m. The contest will be UVU's third game in the past five days.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.
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