Utah Valley junior Sam Lubcke scored a game-high 18 points, while four Wolverine starters combined for 61 points to lead Utah Valley to a 70-61 win over Southern Utah on Tuesday afternoon at Centrum Arena.
Lubcke, who scored eight of UVU's (2-8) 15 points in the third quarter, shot 8-of-10 from the floor and added a pair of free throws en route to her fifth-straight game in double figures. UVU finished with four starters in double figures, as Britta Hall poured in 17, Mariah Seals added 15 and Taylor Gordon finished with 11.
"It was a good game," Lubcke said. "My biggest focus was being a presence in the post. I know when I have a presence that makes it easier for our outside shooters, so I tried to be a presence down low. The girls were just passing me the ball and I was able to convert."
The Wolverines posted their best shooting performance of the season, knocking 24-of-45 field goals for a season-high 55.6 shooting percentage. Following Lubcke in made shots was Britta Hall (6-of-10 FG), Seals (4-of-9 FG) and Gordon (3-of-9 FG).
In addition, Utah Valley matched its season high in made 3-pointers and shot a season-best 56.3 percent from beyond the arc. Hall drained a team-high four 3-pointers (4-of-5 3-pt FG), Seals hit three (3-of-5 3-pt FG) and Gordon and Jordan Holland each made one.
"I thought we shared the ball well and moved it around," said Utah Valley head coach Cathy Nixon. "I felt like we had a few more cylinders firing tonight. Southern Utah kept coming back at us, but we had to beat them and they didn't lay down."
Overall, the Wolverines tallied 13 assists, led by a career-high-tying eight assist from Seals. Hall finished with two helpers, and Wi Neera and Gordon each had one.
UVU fought off a fierce third-quarter, Thunderbird (5-4) comeback after Lubcke went on to score three of the squad's first four baskets of the half to give UVU a 10-point lead going into the fourth. With the Wolverines' lead down to 43-40, Lubcke added her eighth point of the period on a layup as part of a 7-0 quarter-ending run that started with a Seals 3-pointer and ended with a buzzer-beater by freshman Leya Harvey.
The Wolverines extended their run to 11-2 at the start of the fourth quarter following another jumper in the paint by Lubcke and a basket from Gabrielle Leos to push their lead to 52-40. Southern Utah then came alive to pull within four of Utah Valley on a 14-5 run with 3:09 remaining, as guard Jamie Smith nailed a three to bring the score to 60-56.
During the final two minutes of the game, the Wolverines knocked down eight free throws to end the comeback bid down the stretch. Seals made four down the stretch, followed by two a piece from Gordon and Lubcke to seal UVU's second victory.
Along with the successful 3-point shooting, Utah Valley held SUU to 31.3 percent shooting from deep on defense, which was the second-lowest 3-point field goal percentage by an opponent this season.
"I'm proud of our girls. It's been a process and the girls have bought in. I think they're starting to understand how to play together and how to win, which starts with being tough defensively and rebounding," Nixon said.
The Wolverines now return home to play Denver on Friday, Dec. 9, in their first game of the season played inside the P.E. Gym. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.