FARMVILLE, Va. — Despite double-doubles from Karlee Kartchner and Katie Kuklok, Utah Valley University found itself on the wrong end of a back-and-forth contest at Longwood University on Saturday, falling 59-57.
Kuklok scored a game- and season-high 28 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the loss and pulled down 11 rebounds for her first career double-double. Of those 11 boards, seven were offensive, and she also recorded two steals and an assist. For Kartchner, who made her first career start Saturday, her 10-point-11-rebound effort earned her a second consecutive double-double. The freshman completed the feat for the first time in her career Thursday at George Mason.
"There were a lot of runs today and we just didn't get any breaks down the stretch, which is how it goes on the road sometimes," head coach Cathy Nixon said. "We had a few too many turnovers and as the game turned we needed to find ways to score on the offensive end. We're still young and inexperienced but hopefully we take some good things from this weekend and go back home a better team."
A wild final three minutes of the contest saw two lead changes and a tie as Utah Valley (1-2) looked to come back from a short deficit it had faced much of the half. Trailing by as many as seven in the second period, the Wolverines regained their initial lead at 2:47 when Tina Doughty finished a tough layup in traffic for two of her eight points in the game. The bucket put UVU ahead, 55-53, its first lead since the 17:24 mark earlier in the half.
That lead quickly vanished, however, as the next five points went the way of Longwood (2-1). Freshman Brenna Robbins buried a corner three, and after a UVU miss, freshman guard Daeisha Brown drove the length of the floor and found teammate Khalilah Ali for a layup.
Suddenly trailing by three and the clock ticking down under a minute, Kuklok hit two free throws to pull UVU to within one with just 46 seconds to play. The sophomore went a perfect 10-of-10 from the line.
"Katie was awesome tonight," Nixon said. "She does so many things for us and tonight she stepped up as a leader and was a real catalyst whatever successes we had on both ends of the court."
A forced shot-clock violation on LU's next possession gave the ball back to UVU with 16 seconds left, but the Wolverines came up empty when Rhaiah Spooner-Knight, working on a screen and roll with Georgia Agnew, saw the pass from Agnew batted out of her hands out of bounds. A bang-bang decision, the official ruled the ball had last touched Spooner-Knight and returned possession to the Lancers.
With 3.1 seconds now showing on the clock, Brown went 1-of-2 from the foul line to make the score 59-57. But with the miss coming on the second attempt, UVU was forced to settle for a three-quarter court heave from Doughty at the buzzer that fell short of the mark.
The Wolverines led the Lancers, 27-22 at halftime, but they were outscored, 37-30, over the final 20 minutes to settle the final score line. Powering the LU's second half push was sophomore guard Brown's 21 second-half points. Sidelined with foul trouble after only 10 minutes of play in the first half, Brown emerged from the halftime locker room and changed the course of the game almost singlehandedly.
Averaging 10.5 points per game through the first two games of the season, Brown scored 13 points in the second half's first five minutes of action. That scoring spurt powered a 19-6 LU run that saw the Lancers take a 41-34 lead with 14:38 still to play.
Needing a jolt, UVU got back on track when Kuklok worked her way to the foul line and buried a pair. Those two freebies sparked what would become an 8-2 rally that pulled the Wolverines to within one at 43-42 as the clock ticked past the midway point of the second half.
But Longwood answered again, this time virtue of a 25-foot heave from Brown that splashed through the net as the shot clock expired. The Lancers pushed the lead to 47-42, but they would never lead by more than five the rest of the way as Utah Valley clawed its way back to set the stage for the fateful final stretch.
UVU suffers its second consecutive loss despite heavily out-rebounding Longwood on Saturday. Having surrendered 20 offensive rebounds in Thursday's loss to George Mason, the Wolverines allowed just four offensive boards to Longwood and won the rebounding battle, 45-26.
"We talked about making a concerted effort on the glass, and we just dominated them on the boards," Nixon said. "It's a tribute to our team in that they can focus on a certain goal and meet it through difficult circumstances. That was one of our most obvious bright points today."
Still, the deciding factor may have been bench production as the home team enjoyed 12 bench points for the game, while UVU failed to register a point outside its starting lineup. Senior Whitney Jenkins' seven points and Agnew's four rounded out the Wolverines' scoring on the day as the six players that came off the UVU bench were held scoreless.
Utah Valley returns to Utah but remains away from home for its next contest as its three-game road trip winds to a close. Next up, the Wolverines face Southern Utah in Cedar City for a 7 p.m. MT tip. UVU will be looking to snap a seven-game losing streak against the Thunderbirds.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.