Fans inside the UCCU Center in Orem could feel the momentum beginning to shift to Grand Canyon when the Utah Valley University women’s basketball team had its 11-point lead third quarter cut to four early in the fourth quarter.
That is, until freshman, Madison Grange, coolly drilled a 3-point shot from the left wing to push the Wolverine lead back to seven and regain control, and cruised to the 57-46 win on Thursday night.
“I just had confidence that I was doing it for my team and it went in,” said Grange, who scored 12 points to help pace UVU to victory in its WAC opener.
“It feels good to come out of the gate of conference with a win,” UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. “I thought it was a really good team defensive effort, especially to hold them to 46 points and disrupt what they wanted to do.”
UVU kept the visiting Antelopes’ shooting in check all night, holding them to just 33 percent from the field despite having a considerable size disadvantage in the post.
“I feel like regardless of our size if we fulfill our assignments on the defensive end we can be successful,” Nixon said. “Our team works hard defensively. When they stick to the game plan and do our assignments we’re really pretty good.”
After Grange’s 3-pointer, back-to-back layups by Jordan Holland pushed the UVU lead to 11. Another Holland bucket, a 3-pointer with 1:08 left, iced the game for the Wolverines.
“When they came back, we started to fall apart a little bit,” Grange said. “But as we came together, we started playing better and everything else took care of itself.”
Eve Braslis led UVU in scoring with 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Alexis Cortez and Holland both added 11 points giving the Wolverines four players scoring in double figures.
“We’ve had some close games that we haven’t come out on the winning end,” Nixon said. “I thought that showed growth that we were able to control the ball and get the stops that we needed to and it just feels good.”
Building on these successes and seeing progress is exactly what Nixon is looking for from her young team right now.
“Regardless of the class of player that is out there, I feel like our girls are confident in what they can do and what we can do,” Nixon said. “I think we’ve shown that when we play together, and play hard, we can be competitive with anybody.”
The Wolverines victory celebration will be short lived as the team prepares to take on CSU Bakersfield on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Lockhart Arena.