Behind a combined 39 points from senior guards Mariah Seals and Taylor Christensen, Utah Valley women's basketball topped Dixie State, 72-63, to pick up its first win of the season.
Seals scored game-high 20 points for her second 20-point effort this year to go along with four assists, while Christensen poured in 19 points for the second-straight contest to give the Wolverine (1-5) duo more than half of their squad's points. UVU also forced Dixie State (4-3) into 22 turnovers on defense en route to winning the takeaway battle for the fourth time this season, as it only committed seven team turnovers.
"We felt it was important to get Taylor and Mariah going," said Utah Valley head coach Cathy Nixon. "We also feel like we are going to win games being disruptive defensively and I felt like we did a good job of that tonight. Conversely, I loved how on our side we took care of the ball, had 13 assists and 13 offensive rebounds, and I think if we keep doing that we can win some games."
Along with their advantage in the turnover margin, Utah Valley converted its extra opportunities into 23 points. Seals paced the Wolverine defense with game and season highs of four steals on the day, followed behind by Christensen and sophomore guard Gabrielle Leos.
In addition, the Wolverines pulled down a season-best 33 rebounds behind a 13-10 advantage on the offensive glass. Christensen finished with a team-high six rebounds, and UVU freshman forward Ally Bates grabbed a season-high five boards, four of which came on the offensive end to lead the Wolverines in offensive rebounds.
The Trailblazers led 21-15 heading into the second quarter after a 9-0 offensive spurt that spanned the final 2:34 of the first quarter. DSU's quick burst was guided by a couple of layups from Maile Richardson and Ashlee Burge and capped with a three by Morgan Myers.
UVU came back to within one of DSU at the beginning of the second period, as the squad went on a 10-5 run to bring the score to 26-25. Seals led the charge with five of those on a layup and 3-pointer, while Bates drained a shot from downtown of her own and Leos nailed two free throws with 7:14 left in the half.
The senior duo of Christensen and Seals continued their explosive performance, as Seals dropped in a floater with 3:39 remaining in the second quarter to help the Wolverines reclaim the lead they never relinquished at 29-27. Christensen tied the game at 27-27 a possession prior before she followed Seals' floater with a two-point field goal just inside the left wing to extend UVU's lead to 31-27.
On the next UVU possession, Seals added her 11th point of the half to put the Wolverines ahead six, 33-27. Christensen then followed up a Martin three for DSU by notching her 13th point on another two-point jumper inside before Bates hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to help UVU take a 38-32 lead into the halftime break.
The Wolverines' barrage stretched into the second half, as junior guard Britta Spencer nailed back-to-back 3-pointers for a quick 6-0 offensive spurt against the Trailblazers. Her second three of the quarter succeeded a string of four DSU turnovers on its first four possessions of the period and pushed Utah Valley's advantage to 44-33.
In response to a 10-2 DSU run, Seals buried her second three of the game that began a 7-3 UVU scoring spree. Christensen again added to the duo's spectacular night with a pair of baskets from the elbow, and sophomore forward Jordan Holland converted an and-one to put the Wolverines up by 11, 56-45.
Dixie State climbed its way back into the contest to pull within three at 56-53 with 7:25 left on the game clock. However, the Wolverines made 7-of-8 free throws in the final 40 seconds of the game to seal their first victory of the year.
On the day, the Wolverines enjoyed a season-high eight made 3-pointers with two apiece coming from Seals and Spencer. Spencer's pair of shots from beyond the arc gave her at least one made 3-pointer for the ninth game in a row.
In addition, UVU's 13 total assists as a team marked a season high for the squad this year. Seals extended her streak of consecutive games with at least one dime to 13 contests.
Utah Valley ends its first homestand of the year on Thursday with a contest versus in-state foe Southern Utah. The game against the Thunderbirds is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. MT, inside Lockhart Arena.