EDINBURG, Texas — Utah Valley University overcame a four-point deficit, with just a little over a minute to play to force overtime, and nearly overpowered a similar margin in the extra frame. But the team but came up short, dropping a 71-70 decision to the University of Texas-Pan American Saturday night in the UTPA Fieldhouse. Three Wolverines finished in double-digit scoring in the contest.
"I was really pleased with how our kids battled in a situation of controllables and uncontrollables," said UVU head women's basketball coach Cathy Nixon. "If we could have converted some free throws and avoided some turnovers at very inopportune times we could have possibly pulled away in regulation. But every game is its own adventure and certainly I'm proud of the kids' effort and energy and toughness in the back end of a long road trip."
Trailing 63-59 after LaQuita Garner buried a corner three for UTPA (11-16, 4-5 GWC), Jensen worked her way to the foul line for UVU (13-13, 5-3 GWC) and knocked down the freebies to cut the lead in half. Then, after a defensive stop, Abbie Beutler looked inside for Erika Newbold who netted a left-handed hook shot in the lane to tie the score at 63 with 18 seconds left.
Bianca Torre pushed the other way for UTPA, but her runner in the lane was too strong, giving UVU the ball after a Jensen rebound. On the final possession of regulation, the Wolverines pushed the ball into the frontcourt, but Huber's desperation 30-footer as time expired skimmed off the back iron, sending the game into overtime.
UTPA drew first blood in the extra period after Donna Jackson buried a jumper from the elbow at the 3:44 mark. A free throw from Garner pushed the Bronc lead to 66-63 with 2:15 to play, but Alle Finch pulled the Wolverines back level just seconds later with a big three-point play.
Back-to-back scores from UTPA gave the Broncs another four-point lead at 70-66, with 1:17 left in overtime. After consecutive 1-for-2 trips to the foul line for both teams, the score sat at 71-67 with 12 seconds remaining. A wing three from Jenkins with 6.4 seconds left kept UVU alive and, after Franchesca Simon missed both free throws on the next UTPA possession, the Wolverines had a shot at the win.
Jenkins pulled in the rebound off the second miss and delivered an outlet pass to Jensen who raced the other way. Jensen drove into the paint where she collided with UTPA's Jackson near the basket. The baseline official whistled an offensive foul on Jensen, returning the ball to the Broncs and sealing the Wolverines fate.
The Wolverines were led in the contest by a game-high 23 points and 14 rebounds from Jensen — her 14th double-double of the season. Also finishing in double figures were Jenkins with 14, including a pair of treys, and Newbold who added 12. Newbold also nine rebounds and Beutler and Finch had five assists apiece.
Junior guard Torre, who needed 17 points to become the all-time leading scorer in UTPA women's basketball history, led the Broncs with 15 points.
UVU will close out the regular season at home when it returns to Orem for a Tuesday matchup with Houston Baptist. The game, which tips at 1 p.m. in the Activity Center, is the second meeting between the Wolverines and the Huskies in five days, as UVU defeated HBU 62-41 in Houston on Thursday night. From there, the Wolverines will face North Dakota the following Saturday in the 2011-2012 regular season finale.
Kellen Hiser is Sports Information Assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.