EDINBURG — After an inbound pass, with 1.1 seconds left on the clock and the game knotted at 55, Utah Valley did what the UTRGV women’s basketball team was trying to accomplish all night — hammer the nail in the coffin.
The Wolverines’ Jordan Holland was aided by the rim and a friendly shooter’s roll as her layup rattled in to give UVU a 57-55 win. Utah Valley (4-0) remains undefeated in WAC play, while UTRGV (2-2) falls back to .500 after winning its prior two games.
“Well, that’s a tough one,” UTRGV coach Lane Lord said after addressing his team after the game. “We talk about this many times. In conference play, it always comes down to just a few possessions. We didn’t execute late. They did.”
The Vaqueros had the ball with 18.9 seconds and no shot clock — an opportunity to attempt a last-second shot of their own. Instead of giving the crowd a reason to erupt, a turnover gave the Wolverines enough time to stun the UTRGV Fieldhouse faithful.
“We’re going to take this game, think about it,” UTRGV’s Nichele Hyman said. “Fix the mistakes we had as far limiting turnovers, making free throws, executing the plays and then bounce back on Saturday.”
UTRGV was 7-for-11 from the charity stripe and had 16 turnovers to Utah Valley’s 13.
For nearly three quarters, UTRGV looked back and saw Utah Valley in its rearview mirror. The Vaqueros jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes and were lifted by six first-half 3-pointers.
Hyman and Megan Johnson, who combined for four 3-pointers in the team’s first three conference games, both had a pair of threes at halftime.
Hyman finished with 13 points and a trio of 3s, including a shot in the final minute to momentarily give UTRGV back the lead. Johnson had 12 points and Madison Northcutt was the final Vaqueros player in double digits.
“We went inside out,” Johnson said. “It felt like when we did hit those shots, we took our time and we actually executed; we moved the ball. That’s when the offense felt good. Sometimes, I guess we moved the ball and we had that opportunity and we didn’t take it or sometimes we took the wrong shots.”
The end of quarters was an issue for the home team. Even though UTRGV led by as many as 11 points during the first half, Utah Valley used equally strong surges to close out the first and second quarters.
“I thought in the first half when we had the lead that’s when you really want to extend that lead and try to get it to 15 (points) at the half,” Lord said. “I think we had three straight possessions when we turned it right over and let them back in it.”
Alexis Cortez was the main source of offense for UVU with 11 first-half points and finished with 17. Holland, whose shot won the game, had 12 second-half points, including her team’s final eight.
UTRGV plays the second game of its short home stand Saturday night, when it hosts defending WAC tournament champion Seattle University (0-5), which is still searching for its first conference victory in 2018-19.
“Man, I feel like in this conference you can’t underestimate anybody,” Hyman said. “Everybody’s is trying to go 1-0 every night. Let’s go 1-0, 1-0.”