OREM Coming out of the Christmas break to start a three-game homestand against teams that all have winning records coming in seemed to be too much for a young Utah Valley State women's basketball team to handle before the season.
But a 104-99 win over Portland State on Saturday proved this year's team is different from past seasons in the ability to grind the close games instead of falling short down the stretch.
A running offense carried UVSC as it broke a school record for the highest point total against a Division I school in the victory over the Vikings.
"It came down to whether we had the heart to pull it out when we needed to," said UVSC coach Cathy Nixon. "I thought our kids stepped up."
The Vikings came in with a talented group, but the trio of Robyn Fairbanks, Sandy Marvin and Julie McMurray put in over 20 points each so that not just one Wolverine could be shut down."To have them come in at 9-2, I would hope we would rise to the challenge," Nixon said of her team's ability to match up against a Portland State team off to its best start ever in D-I play.
MEN'S BASKETBALL: Bad luck seems to have come upon the Wolverines as they haven't won a game on their home floor after a new court was installed before the Portland State game on Dec. 1.
A five-game road trip starting on Saturday against Troy might help with the Wolverines' confidence as they beat the Trojans 72-51 in UVSC's home opener in November.
With Kevin Woods getting more playing time and scoring (putting in a career-high 15 points against Cal State Northridge in last Friday's 73-63 loss), UVSC now has two options on the perimeter instead of relying on Ryan Toolson's shooting.The Wolverines won't come home again until Jan. 22 when they start a three-game homestand.
SOFTBALL: The 2008 schedule has been released, and the Wolverines will be racking up frequent hotel points as they will play 33 of 51 games away from home.
With the season starting Feb. 8 at the Red Desert Classic in St. George part of four away tournaments in the first six weeks of the season the early schedule doesn't give UVSC any favors.
Only a March 1 home-debut doubleheader against Albertson gives the team a break from travel until a five-game homestand starts March 19.Two games against BYU are scheduled, with the Cougars visiting April 16 and UVSC making the short trip down to Provo in its season finale on May 6.
MEN'S BASKETBALL: at Troy on Saturday; at Lamar on Tuesday.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: at New Mexico State on Saturday; at Denver on Tuesday.
WRESTLING: vs. South Dakota State on Thursday at 7 p.m.; at Lone Star Duals in South Grand Prairie, Texas, on Saturday.