Playing in the NIT may be wishful thinking, but it is dream the UVSC men's basketball team is holding onto. Following Saturday's 78-63 win over Northern Colorado, the Wolverines upped their record to 21-5 with still two games to play.
"I don't know if that is high in the sky, but we are certainly well aware of it," UVSC coach Dick Hunsaker said. "You never take that dream away. I couldn't say enough about our kids in how they have fought and the improvement they have made through the course of the year."
Utah Valley has won 20 of its last 21 games going into this week's National Provisional tournament in Florida. UVSC will play Northern Colorado on Thursday, then play the winner or loser of the Longwood/Florida Gulf Coast game on Friday. Florida Gulf Coast is a Div. II team.
"I like the test to play Northern (Colorado) five days from now on a neutral court," Hunsaker said. "They are really going to have a lot of energy and revenge in mind."
UVSC has beaten Northern Colorado twice this year, including a 63-60 win in Colorado.
A critical component in Utah Valley's success this year continues to be the play of junior guard Ronnie Price. Against Northern Colorado, Price scored a season-high 38 points on 12-of-22 shooting while playing the entire 40 minutes. Price also had five steals, four assists, one block and only one turnover.
Price is averaging close to 20 points a game for UVSC.
"Ronnie Price is an outstanding basketball player who has taken this year with an exemplary attitude to improve," Hunsaker said. "Ronnie has become a high percentage complete player, not just a jump shooter. He's really emerged with that refusal to lose attitude that he can do something about. Ronnie's toughness has emerged on a daily basis, and it was no greater exemplified then tonight."
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Cathy Nixon couldn't have pictured a better ending for her team's first year as a Div. I school. On Saturday, the Wolverines' 64-58 win over Northern Colorado was their first victory over a Div. I team. The win gave UVSC an 11-13 record in its first year as a Div. I school.
"I couldn't be happier with the progress we made, taking a junior college team and going right to the heart of Div. I basketball," Nixon said. "We played the best teams we could play. I couldn't be prouder of this team as far as what they accomplished. I told them that, 'they are the perfect team to make this transition with.' Someday in the next month or two I'll look back and say 'wow did we really do that?' "
SOFTBALL: The Wolverines opened their inaugural NCAA season on Saturday by beating UNLV 4-1, of the Mountain West Conference. UVSC lost to Simon Fraser, the defending NAIA national champions, 5-3, on Saturday. On Sunday, UVSC fell to UNLV 6-0 and lost again to Simon Fraser, 5-2.
UVSC will be at Northwest Nazarene on Wednesday before playing in a three-day tournament at Central Washington March 5-7.
BASEBALL: UVSC will be in action March 4-6 at the Banana Belt Tournament in Lewiston, Idaho. UVSC will face Portland, Gonzaga, Washington and Lewis & Clark.