With March now in full swing, the Utah Valley University women's basketball team makes its inaugural trip to the Western Athletic Conference Tournament where it opens play against Bakersfield on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. MT. All games at the tournament will be played at the Orleans Arena.
Utah Valley (7-22, 4-12 WAC) takes the seventh seed into the tournament and will face a Bakersfield (18-10, 12-4) squad that earned the two seed. The Wolverines and Roadrunners bookended the conference season, facing off in their respective WAC openers and again in the finale. CSUB won both meetings, most recently earning a 66-51 home victory over UVU on Saturday.
Kuklok, who leads the Wolverines into the tournament at 16.3 points per game, was named to the WAC's All-Newcomer Team on Monday. She was joined on the list by true freshman Rhaiah Spooner-Knight who closed out her rookie campaign at 11.4 ppg and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game.
Though making its first appearance at the WAC Tournament, Utah Valley is 6-3 all-time in postseason conference tournament. The Wolverines competed for four seasons in the Great West Conference Tournament, capturing the title in 2010 and appearing in the final in 2012 and 2013. In four tries, UVU is 4-0 in conference tournament opening rounds.
Bakersfield, on the other hand, is making its first appearance in a conference postseason tournament since it transitioned to Division I in 2005. The `Runners are led by first team all-conference selection Tyonna Outland and her 20.8 ppg. She finished second in the WAC rankings in scoring, trailing only second team All-WAC pick Eilise O'Connor (21.4 ppg) of Kansas City. The Wolverines limited Outland to 12 points on Saturday, but the junior guard hung 25 on UVU in the season's first meeting on Jan. 4.
Outland was also named to the WAC's All-Defensive Team.
Ranking second in scoring for the `Runners is senior guard Melissa Sweat. At 13.9 ppg, the senior guard earned a selection to the All-WAC second team.
The winner of Wednesday's quarterfinal advances to the WAC Tournament semifinal scheduled for Friday at 3:30 p.m. MT, and will face either No. 3 Seattle U or No. 6 Kansas City.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.