OREM — Senior guard Taylor Christensen hit a game-winning jumper with 44.6 seconds left on the game clock to key Utah Valley women's basketball's 59-56 fourth-quarter comeback win over Air Force Thursday night inside the UCCU Center.
With the Wolverines (3-6) down one point in the final minute, Christensen dribbled from the top of the arc just inside the 3-point line near the left elbow and sank a high-arching jumpjump shotr Air Force (0-8) freshman forward Naomi Hughes to help UVU remain unbeaten at home. The go-ahead basket by Christensen, who also had a game-high nine rebounds, gave her a team-high 17 points on the evening and erased UVU's 8-point deficit in the final 5:20 of the game.
"I saw their player backpedaling and figured I'd take advantage of that," said Christensen. "The coaches called my number on that play, but as a team I feel like we're growing a lot in these wins. When other teams go on runs I think we're becoming more mentally tough by not letting it go us and coming back with solid play on offense and defense."
Along with Christensen's big pull-up jumper, junior guard Britta Spencer and sophomore guard Gabrielle Leos aided their senior teammate down the stretch with a combined 10 points during a 13-2 Wolverine run to end the game. In addition, Utah Valley gathered seven defensive stops across the last eight Falcon offensive possessions in the fourth quarter.
Spencer ignited the come-from-behind victory with two straight layups, including an and-one conversion with 4:18 left in regulation following a left handed layup off the glass that drew contact from Hughes. The and-one play followed a steal on the other end from UVU sophomore forward Jordan Holland, who also contributed one point during the squad's late push.
Holland then stepped up again with 1:18 remaining in the game, catching the ball underneath the basket on a blocked two-point attempt by Spencer that led to Leos bringing UVU to within 56-55 on an and-one play of her own. The 6-foot Holland kicked the ball out to the right wing to find an open Leos, who then converted a scoop layup around the outstretched arms of Air Force's Dee Bennett while being fouled en route to cutting the Air Force lead to one.
Outside of the contributions from her backcourt teammates, senior guard Mariah Seals assisted on the game-changing layup by Spencer with 5:43 to go in the fourth and again on Christensen's game-winner. UVU's floor general, Seals tied a season-high with five dimes to give her four straight games with three or more assists.
Joining Christensen and Spencer in double figures, Leya Harvey finished as UVU's second-leading scorer with a 12-point effort. Seals and Leos each added nine, while Spencer tallied eight points in the third Wolverine victory in four outings.
Behind Christensen's single-game best in rebounds on the year, the Wolverines won the rebound battle for the first time this season with a 30-27 advantage on the glass over the Falcons. Harvey grabbed six boards on the day, followed by five for Holland to round out Utah Valley's trio of players with at least five rebounds.
After closing the game with shut-down defense on Air Force, UVU's defense matched a season-best 23 forced turnovers compared to 19 for its sixth turnover margin victory of the year. The WAC's leader in steals to start the week, the Wolverines also claimed 14 takeaways on the day behind a game-high tying four steals by Harvey.
Utah Valley will continue its six-game homestand on Saturday when it hosts in-state foe Utah State on Dec. 9. That contest versus the Aggies is set to begin at 3 p.m. MT inside Lockhart Arena.