The UVU women’s basketball team tipped off the 2011-12 season by corraling the Western New Mexico Mustanges 73-57 on Wednesday night at the UCCU Center, although the Wolverines did look rusty at times.
The Wolverines were on cruise control early in the first half, holding a 28-1 lead and putting on a clinic on how to break the press for layups. Jenna Johnson and Cydne Mason consistently advanced the ball up the court with minimal dribbling for point-blank attempts.
“It kind of rattles you at first,” Mason said. “It takes a certain mind set to do what it takes to break the press but once you do it’s not too difficult. It just takes focus and effort.”
The Mustangs expended most of their energy on a full-court presand got burned not unlike a blitz-happy defense in football letting a 5-yard screen pass go for 50 yards. WNMU played matador-style defense, letting UVU to convert those attempts … eventually.
“We missed a lot of layups and easy shots,” UVU head coach Cathy Nixon. “We needed to knock off all the cobwebs tonight. We were able to rebound well and get extra shots so that’s good and bad. We don’t want to miss those shots but we were able to get second chances.”
Late in the first half, WNMU took a few minutes off from the press to rest and it paid off. After initial sloppy play, the Mustangs sharpened up and with their energy reserves built back up they were able to take a fresh attack and chip away at the Wolverine lead. The last eight minutes of the first half belonged to the Mustangs, as they outscored UVU 15-8 to cut the Wolverine lead down to 29-23 at the break.
The Mustangs came out strong and converted on a three-point shot to trim the lead down to 36-33 early in the second half. From that point on however, it would be the Wolverines that galloped off and sprinted out to a16-point win to open the season.
Sammie Jensen lead the charge recording a double double with 14 rebounds — half of them off the offensive glass — and 15 points. Center Erika Newbold played her first minutes in over 20 months because of injuries. She scored four points and had three rebounds and three blocked shots in 26 minutes.
“It was great to see Erika out there,” Nixon said.”She has worked so hard to get out there and it’s so good to see her play.”
Jenna Johnson had 17 points, four assists and four rebounds, Kaycee Mansfield added seven points, four rebounds and three assists and Kim Bell had eight points and six rebounds.