OREM, Utah - After taking just a few days off for Christmas break, the Utah Valley University women's basketball team will return to the hardwood Saturday in Cedar City to take on in-state rival Southern Utah.
The game will tip at 5 p.m. and live audio for the contest can be heard online at WolverineGreen.com. Live stats and video can also be accessed by visiting SUUTBirds.com.
Saturday's game will mark the second of three straight games away from home for UVU. In the first of the three, the Wolverines fell to No. 25 Colorado, 81-45, in Boulder last Saturday. UVU hung with the undefeated Buffaloes for the majority of the first half, but Colorado closed the opening half on a 23-3 run to take a 37-14 halftime lead and put the game away.
UVU is 4-10 overall this season and won't begin its final season of Great West Conference play until Jan. 5 at home versus Texas-Pan American. Saturday's contest will mark the second meeting on the year between the Wolverines and SUU as the two previously met up in Orem on Dec. 6. The Thunderbirds came away victorious with a 71-66 win that night.
Despite the loss to the T-Birds a couple weeks ago, UVU is 2-1 on the year against in-state teams after it defeated Utah State on Nov. 12 and Weber State on Dec. 4.
Senior Sammie Jensen leads the Wolverines and the Great West Conference in scoring and rebounding with a double-double average of 17.1 ppg and 12.5 rpg. Jensen is in the top 10 in the nation in both double-doubles and rebounding as she has nine double-doubles in 14 games this season. Fellow senior Kaycee Mansfield is second on the team in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 8.4 ppg and 6.2 rpg. Sophomore Tina Doughty is third in scoring with an average of 8.0 points per game.
About Southern Utah: The T-Birds are 6-4 this season and 1-0 so far in their first season of play in the Big Sky Conference after defeating North Dakota, UVU's former rival in the Great West, in Grand Forks on Dec. 20. SUU was picked to finish last in the Big Sky Preseason Poll.
Southern Utah will enter Saturday's game having won four consecutive contests. The winning streak started at UVU on Dec. 6 and also includes wins at San Jose State, at home versus Houston Baptist and on the road at North Dakota.
Sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko leads SUU in scoring with an average of 12.8 points per game. She also leads the team in three-point shooting as she is a 43-percent shooter from distance. Junior guard Sophia Hepworth is next in scoring for SUU with 8.4 ppg and senior forward Kimie Hawkins is right behind her with 8.1 ppg and a team-best 7.9 rebounds.
Saturday's game will be the 14th all-time meeting between the Wolverines and T-Birds. SUU leads the all-time series 9-4 and the Thunderbirds have won the last six meetings. UVU is also 19-22 all-time against teams from the Big Sky, which includes a 2-3 record this year.
Up Next for the Wolverines: The Wolverines will bring in the New Year by traveling to Colorado Springs, Colo., to face the Air Force Academy on Jan. 2. UVU will then begin GWC play on Jan. 5.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.