Mark Nessia, WAC Sports

Utah Valley women's hoops upset by Seattle in WAC Tournament opener

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Mar. 11, 2020 at 9:46 p.m.



LAS VEGAS — If that is the final game of the 2019-20 regular season, then the best finish in Utah Valley women’s basketball history since joining the Western Athletic Conference ended with a thud Wednesday afternoon.

Jordan Holland had 13 points and four rebounds in what is likely the final game of her career, and the second-seeded Wolverines lost to No. 7 Seattle, 61-48 in a WAC tournament quarterfinal at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Kamira Sanders had 21 points, five rebounds and two assists to lead Seattle (13-16), and Joana Alves added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Redhawks.

“They deserved to win,” UVU coach Dan Nielson said. “They outrebounded us, shot the ball better, and deserved to win. I’m proud of my girls who kept fighting.”

The final game of the first round between sixth-seeded Cal State Bakersfield and third-seeded Grand Canyon was postponed until Thursday morning out of "an abundance of caution" related to a medical situation with a member of one of the team's traveling party, a source told KSL.com. The league plans to play the game at 9:30 a.m. at Orleans Arena, pending further information, but will also hold a previously appointed meeting between university presidents and athletic directors to determine a future cause of action for the tournament amid medical concerns.

Eve Braslis added 13 points, nine rebounds and two assists for Utah Valley (12-16), which shot just 29% from the field and committed 16 turnovers while being outrebounded 50-41. Seattle led for more than 31 minutes of game time, virtually wire-to-wire in the Wolverines’ WAC tournament opener.

“I know that this program is just going to get better, and I’m just glad I was a part of it,” Holland said. “The record may not show, but it was a good senior year.”

Utah Valley trailed by as many as 8 in the first half, but cut the deficit to 1, 34-33 on Braslis’ jumper midway through the third quarter.

But the Wolverines went 4:31 without scoring to end the quarter down 43-37, and never threatened again.

Utah Valley can earn a berth in the WNIT if regular-season champion Kansas City wins the WAC Tournament to clinch the league’s autobid to the NCAA women’s tournament. Otherwise, the Wolverines’ season is over.

“It’s been an emotional day, even a little furious. I’m sad, but it’s because that doesn’t represent what we are or what we can do as a team,” Braslis said. “We’ve worked so hard. We went 1-for-9 to start the season, then rallied to get second place.

“To lose our first game of the tournament, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. That’s just not good enough, and it’s how we will be looking back on it. When it’s crunch time, we need to finish and win games like that.”

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