CHICAGO - 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.
In all four players finished in double figures for UVU. Behind Jensen's 18th double-double of the season, sophomore Taylor Huber added 13 points off the bench, while senior Kaycee Mansfield had 12 and junior Whitney Jenkins recorded 10 points and six assists. Senior Alle Cardwell also had a nice game for the Wolverines as she chipped in five points, four assists, three rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
"It wasn't pretty tonight but we got the job done. I'm really proud of these girls for finding a way to get the victory and earn at least a piece of the conference championship," UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. "When you play on the road you sometimes don't get the breaks you typically assume you might but we had some outstanding performances from Alle (Cardwell), Taylor (Huber) and Sammie (Jensen) that really helped us out."
The Wolverines jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead thanks to four quick points from Jensen and four more from Mansfield. The Cougars (4-22, 2-3 GWC) answered back however with a 9-2 run to take their first lead of the game at 11-10.
The game then stayed tight the rest of the first half with no team leading by more than three. UVU managed to take a one-point lead into the break, at 30-29, thanks to two free throws from Jensen just before the halftime buzzer sounded.
Jensen, the second leading rebounder in the nation with 13.9 rebounds per game, led Utah Valley in the opening half with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The score remained tight in the second half until UVU used an 11-2 run to build a nine-point lead (57-48). Huber capped the run with the final five points, which included an old fashioned 3-point play.
A 3-ball from CSU's Tierra Williams later pulled the Cougars to within six, at 59-53, with three minutes to play, but Huber immediately responded for UVU with a trifecta of her own to once again give the Wolverines a comfortable nine-point lead.
Utah Valley then managed to hold its lead over the final couple of minutes as it went on to win by eight.
CSU was led by a game-high 26 points from Tierra Williams.
UVU will now come home for its final two games of the regular season next week. The Wolverines will step out of conference play to host future WAC foe CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and will close the season with a chance to win the conference title outright against Houston Baptist next Saturday at 3 p.m. Wednesday's contest will be the Pink Game while Saturday's will be Senior Day.
The 2012-13 Great West Conference Tournament will then be held March 14-16 back at CSU's Jones Convocation Center in Chicago.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.