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UVU basketball: UVU's tough defense outlasted by Utah State

Utah Valley guard Mariah Seals awaits the inbound pass in UVU's contest vs. Weber State at the UCCU Center on Nov. 16. Seals extended her double-digit scoring streak to 12 consecutive games with a 14-point effort in the squad's 56-45 setback at Utah State
Utah Valley guard Mariah Seals awaits the inbound pass in UVU's contest vs. Weber State at the UCCU Center on Nov. 16. Seals extended her double-digit scoring streak to 12 consecutive games with a 14-point effort in the squad's 56-45 setback at Utah State.
Jay Drowns, UVU Marketing

In spite of holding Utah State to a season low in scoring by an opponent this season, Utah Valley women's basketball dropped its road contest to the Aggies, 56-45, on Thursday night at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

The Wolverines (3-9) also received double-digit scoring efforts from the junior duo of Mariah Seals, who had 14 points, and Sam Lubcke with 10 points in the defeat. Utah State (7-2), however, received 19 points from guard Rachel Brewster to snap UVU's two-game win streak.

"I feel like defensively, in terms of our initial defense, it was one of our better games this year," said Utah Valley head coach Cathy Nixon. "I challenged the team during a timeout on the brink of being blown out and I thought they dug in their feet to get back in the game. With our young team, we're still learning how to compete consistently and hopefully we can continue to improve."

In the second quarter, Utah Valley went on a 6-2 run extending from the end of the first quarter to take its final lead of the game, 11-10. Taylor Gordon guided the run with four points off two made free throws and a jumper in the paint.

Following the UVU run, the Aggies responded with a 12-4 run with 3:51 left in the first half to regain the lead for the remainder of play. During that stretch, Brewster notched seven points before heading into halftime with 15 points.

With the deficit up to as many as 14 in the third quarter, the Wolverines clawed back into the game with their own 12-4 scoring burst to pull to within five of Utah State. Seals sparked the run with a two-point jumper and a 3-pointer, while freshman Keana Delos Santos capped the run with another shot from beyond the arc to bring the score to 39-34.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Lubcke poured in six-straight points to cut the Aggie lead to single digits once again at 48-40 with less than five minutes to play. Lubcke converted two layups and hit a deep two-point field goal to give UVU a boost.

UVU received a combined five points within a 57 second span in the final two minutes on a pair of Seals buckets and a free throw by freshman Jordan Holland that cut the Aggie lead to 53-45. On the other end, Utah State also got a combined five points down the stretch from Brewster and Eliza West to help the Aggies hold on.

In addition to giving up the lowest point total to an opponent, the Wolverines held the Aggies to the second-lowest shooting percentage by an opponent this season at 37.9 percent. They also held Utah State without any other double-digit scorers outside of Brewster on the night.

Despite the setback, UVU's lone double-digit scorers Lubcke and Seals extended their streak of consecutive games in double figures. Seals had her 12th straight double-digit scoring night and Lubcke extended her streak to six games.

"The deal-breaker was their 16 offensive rebounds and our 22 turnovers tonight. Any time an opponent gets that many more chances, statistically, you're going to have a hard time winning," Nixon said.

The Wolverines finished the night with 14 points off turnovers, but the Aggies held the advantage in those categories with a combined 19 points earned from their extra opportunities.

Utah Valley continues its two-game road swing with a trip to Pocatello, Idaho, to face Idaho State on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., at Tuesday's contest, which is one of three remaining on UVU's non-conference schedule.