OREM — A cold spell sustained late in the second half proved costly for Utah Valley University as it dropped its fifth consecutive game in an 80-66 defeat at the hands of Northern Arizona. The Wolverines shot a combined 3-of-12 from the field over the final eight minutes of play and were outscored, 25-10, during the pivotal stretch.
Two Wolverines scored in double figures on the day, led by Tina Doughty's 12 points. True freshman Rhaiah Spooner-Knight reached double-digit scoring for the second straight game with 10 points in 22 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Katie Kuklok — who entered the contest as the WAC's leading scorer at 21.7 ppg — was limited to just eight points. Georgia Agnew and Whitney Jenkins also tallied eight points on the afternoon for UVU (1-6).
Pacing NAU (1-2) were 30 points from senior Amanda Frost, while Erikka Banks and Priscilla Brooks registered double-doubles. Banks finished with 19 points and 19 rebounds, and Brooks added another 19 to go along with 13 boards. The Lumberjacks outrebounded the Wolverines, 46-33, and hauled in 20 offensive rebounds on their way to 20 second-chance points.
"The difference in this one came on the defensive end," UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. "We gave up way too many offensive rebounds and they took 12 more shots than we did. We also turned the ball over a bunch. These are things that are fixable and as a coaching staff we are committed to fixing them. We've just got to find ourselves as a team on the defensive end."
After taking a 36-34 lead into halftime, Utah Valley found itself trailing by seven midway through the second half when the Lumberjacks pieced together a 12-2 run. Suddenly facing a 49-42 deficit, the Wolverines rediscovered some of the efficiency they had enjoyed earlier in the contest when they finished the first half at 58.3 percent shooting. What followed was a 14-6 UVU spurt, kickstarted by a corner three from Doughty with 13:34 to play.
NAU got a bucket in response, but 11 of the game's next 14 points went to the home team as the Wolverines recaptured the lead at 56-55. Ashley Klemz knocked down a couple jumpers during the rally, while Ashley Baugh and Agnew added buckets inside. Two Agnew free throws at the 8:12 mark put UVU back out in front and seemed to place the momentum firmly in the hands of the home team.
But all that momentum that had steadily been building over the last five minutes of play seemed to suddenly vanish on the next trip down the floor. On the ensuing possession, NAU's Banks missed a three, but Brooks was there for the offensive putback, giving the Lumberjacks the lead back at 57-56.
The offensive board and score ignited what would ended up being an 18-4 surge for Northern Arizona over the next six minutes of action. The rally included a 10-0 run at one point as UVU went 4:30 without a score late in the half. When the dust settled, the Wolverines found themselves trailing 73-60 with only 1:24 remaining.
Rebecca MaWhinney buried a wing three to cut the deficit to 10 at 73-63, but NAU iced the game at the foul line as the Lumberjacks went 7-of-8 on their freebies down the stretch.
"We said coming into the season that we'd be inexperienced, but a time comes when we have to eliminate that excuse and that this is the time," Nixon said. "At this point, everyone has gotten out there and played and it's just time for us to be better regardless of class or minutes. We'll remedy some of these things and I think if we do that we can be a lot more competitive."
Utah Valley led by as many as seven in the first half as it put together one of its most efficient halves of basketball this season. Shooting 14-of-24 from the field, the Wolverines converted at a rate of 58.3 percent — its second-highest percentage in a half this season. MaWhinney hit a corner three and sophomore Sam Loggins completed a three-point play on the next possession to help UVU to its biggest advantage on the afternoon at 19-12 with 10:05 to play in the first half.
Utah Valley is back on the road next week when it begins another three-game road trip at Boise State on Thursday. The Broncos are 3-3 on the young season. From there, the Wolverines visit Weber State and Utah before returning home to face Santa Clara on Dec. 14.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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