UVU basketball: baskets come at a premium in UVU loss to UTPA

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, March 1 2014 10:05 p.m. MST

Utah Valley University scored a season-low 46 points as it fell to Texas-Pan American, 55-46, on Saturday night at the UTPA Fieldhouse. The loss snaps UVU's three-game winning streak and wraps up a seventh-place finish in the WAC standings. The Wolverines will take the seven seed into the WAC Tournament beginning March 12 in Las Vegas.

UVU (7-21, 4-11) was led by Katie Kuklok's team-high 11 points. Rhaiah Spooner-Knight was next with nine points, while Whitney Jenkins and Sam Loggins each scored eight. Kuklok and Loggins each pulled in a game-high eight rebounds.

"This game came down to who was going to set the tempo and they definitely controlled it," Utah Valley head coach Cathy Nixon said. "They sped us up on the offensive end and I think that caused us to miss a lot of good opportunities that were presented to us. I thought that defensively we took away a lot of their strengths, and for us to lose one when we held them to 55 points is tough."

Knotted at 21-21 at the halftime break, the second half looked to be another tight one after the two teams traded baskets to begin the period. After falling behind 29-25, a layup from Spooner-Knight was followed by a Jenkins 3-pointer. Those buckets spurred what would become a quick 7-2 spurt to give the Wolverines a 32-31 advantage.

But that run was answered, and then some, by the home-standing Broncs (14-14, 8-7 WAC) who rattled off 16 of the next 19 points to take their largest lead of the game at 47-35 with only 6:17 to play. UVU went just 1-for-7 from the field and had five turnovers during what proved to be the decisive rally.

The Wolverines got things back to within single digits after Kuklok knocked down a three with 2:06 to go, but UTPA's Rickell Preston answered with a three-point play on the other end to put the Broncs back up 11 and seal the visitor's fate.

UTPA was led by 16 points from true freshman Shawnte' Goff. She scored 12 of those points in the second half, nine of which came in the first five minutes of the period. Preston chipped in 11 and hauled in eight rebounds.

For the game, UVU shot 33 percent from the field, while going only 24 percent from beyond the arc. The Wolverines also suffered 17 turnovers that resulted in 21 Bronc points.

The Wolverine shooting performance comes in sharp contrast to their previous contest, when they shot 60 percent and scored 87 points in a win over New Mexico State on Thursday. It was the third-highest point total for UVU this season.

The regular season comes to an end next week when Utah Valley plays its finale at Bakersfield. It will be one of two consecutive meetings between the programs as CSUB defeated New Mexico State, 96-90, on Saturday night to clinch the second spot in the WAC standings and a first-round game against seventh-seeded UVU at the WAC Tournament. Bakersfield claimed the first meeting against the Wolverines this season, squeezing out a 61-59 victory in Orem on Jan. 4.

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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