Nehaa Sohail scored nine of her 16 points in the fourth quarter as Utah Valley University earned a season-opening 58-47 win over in-state rival Southern Utah University on Saturday in the UCCU Center.
Both Sohail and Josie Williams recorded double-doubles for the Wolverines (1-0). Sohail had 11 rebounds to go along with her 16 point while Williams finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Maria Carvalho added 12 points and four assists while Kayla Anderson finished with eight points, six rebounds and a pair of steals for Utah Valley.
Sohail scored the go-ahead bucket with 4:32 left during a decisive 12-2 run in the fourth. The Wolverines outscored the Thunderbirds (0-1) 25-11 in the final quarter.
“I was really happy with how we fought in the fourth quarter and made those extra effort plays down the stretch. Even though it was ugly we’re happy to get this first win. I’m proud of the girls,” said head coach Dan Nielson.
Southern Utah led 40-35 with 8:31 left after a bucket by Darri Frandsen, but were outscored 23-7 from that point forward. Until Sohail’s go-ahead layup and subsequent free throw, Southern Utah had not trailed by more than one point and led for all but four of the first 35 minutes of action.
The Wolverines overcame a sluggish first half from the field, hitting 51.9% (14-of-27) in the second half. UVU was just 5-for-26 (19.2%) in the opening half. Southern Utah hit just 27.6% from the field overall (16-for-58).
Frandsen matched Sohail for game-high totals of 11 rebounds. The T-Birds held a 47-37 edge on the glass, hauling in 18 of those on the offensive end. Liz Graves led SUU in scoring with 11 points.
UVU started just 2-for-9 and trailed 7-4 before Anderson knocked the team’s first 3-pointer of the season and her first points as a Wolverine. Eleyana Tafisi gave Utah Valley its first lead of the game, 12-11, when she hit a three on the first offensive possession of her college career. Kinsley Barrington scored for SUU to give the T-Birds a 13-12 lead after one. Both teams were just 4-for-14 from the field in the quarter.
The struggles from the field continued for both teams in the second quarter. The Wolverines were just 1-for-12 in the quarter and finished the half 5-for-26. Southern Utah was 3-for-16 in the quarter, and 7-for-30 in the half but got a put back from Lizzy Williamson right before the half ended to take a 23-17 lead into the break.
Williams sparked a 6-0 run that tied the game at 23-23 just over two minutes into the third quarter. She made consecutive baskets in the paint and Sohail tied it with a driving layup. SUU led 27-25 when Anderson hit a corner three to give UVU a 28-27 lead, forcing a T-Bird timeout.
SUU converted of five of its last seven attempts from the field in the third to take a 36-33 lead into the final quarter. Utah Valley was 6-for-12 from the field in the quarter, nearly doubling its point total from the opening half.
Utah Valley will travel to Pocatello, Idaho next week where they’ll face Big Sky Conference favorites Idaho State on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Wolverines will return to the UCCU Center next Saturday, Dec. 5, for a 2 p.m. contest against UNLV.