EDINBURG, Tex. - Sammie Jensen converted a baseline layup with just 2.6 seconds left in regulation to send the Utah Valley University women's basketball team to a thrilling 51-50 win over Texas-Pan American on Saturday at UTPA Fieldhouse.
"I was really happy with the way the girls responded to a deficit late in the game," head coach Cathy Nixon said. "We fought back and found ways to battle back despite a lot of things not going in our favor. We had a real steady belief that we were going to win and I'm just excited for Sammie being able to make the play at the end."
Leading UVU (11-14, 5-1 GWC) with 21 points and 21 rebounds, Sammie Jensen added to her growing double-double total with number 17 on the season.
Seventeen double-doubles for Jensen sets a single-season record at UVU. Former Wolverine All-American Robyn Fairbanks held the previous mark with 16.
Jensen's bucket capped a back-and-forth sequence that saw five lead changes over the final minute. A free throw from Jensen put UVU in front 47-46 at the 1:07 mark, setting the stage for a dramatic final sixty seconds.
Franchesca Simon buried a straight-away 17-footer to restore the lead to UTPA (9-15, 2-5 GWC) at 48-47 with 41 seconds still showing. The Wolverines answered with another bucket when Jensen finished a tough runner off the backboard and earned a trip to the foul line as well.
Her freebie missed off off the back of the rim, keeping UVU's lead at just one. On the subsequent possession, Simon came up big again for the Broncs. Cassandra Moody, who finished with a team-high 20 points for UTPA, missed a midrange jumper from the left side, but the ball fell straight to Simon. With a jump, catch and shot all in one motion, she put UTPA back up in front 50-49 with only seven seconds left.
With no timeout called, the Wolverines got a quick inbounds pass and Cydne Gray pushed the ball up the right side of the floor. With a one-handed bounce pass, Gray found a streaking Jensen up the sideline. Jensen took the pass and turned the corner down the baseline, finishing the game-winning basket over the still-retreating Broncs defense.
KaeLynn Boyd's desperation half-court shot was well off the mark as UVU improved to 5-1 in Great West Conference play - good for sole possession of first place.
The last-second victory comes amidst a string of nail-biters between Utah Valley and UTPA. In the season's first meeting on Jan. 5, the Wolverines needed a last-second runner from Whitney Jenkins to force overtime in Orem. UVU would go on to claim that game 71-66 in the extra period.
Last year's meeting in Edinburg also required overtime with the Broncs victors this time, pulling out a 71-70 win.
The Wolverines led 22-19 at halftime, limited UTPA to just 7-of-35 (20 percent) shooting in the opening frame. Improving to 39 percent second-half shooting, the home side led by as many seven points at the 6:40 mark before the Wolverines made a big push. With the Broncs out in front 42-35, UVU scored the game's next eight points to take a 43-42 lead. Highlighting the crucial run were back-to-back treys from Doughty and Jensen.
UVU remains on the road next week as it closes out its late-season, three-game road trip at Chicago State on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT. The Wolverines topped the Cougars 71-38 in Orem on Jan. 12.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.