Utah Valley University grabbed its second win in a row in dominant fashion Saturday afternoon, topping New Orleans, 89-49, at the UCCU Center. The 40-point difference marked the largest margin of victory over an NCAA Division I opponent for the Wolverines in their own DI history.
"It's always a little bit interesting coming out of the holidays to see how the girls come back, but I couldn't be happier with their focus," UVU head coach Cathy Nixon said. "We felt it was important for us to get some momentum going into the WAC-opener next week and we did just that today."
True freshman Rhaiah Spooner-Knight led UVU (2-10) in the scoring column for the second consecutive game after pouring in 20 points to lead scorers. That performance comes on the heels of a 21-point output last Friday in the Wolverines' 59-56 win over Idaho State. The Hamilton, New Zealand, native also hauled in nine rebounds, leaving her just one board shy of her first career double-double.
Joining Spooner-Knight in double figures were guards Katie Kuklok with 12 and Tina Doughty with 10. All 11 Wolverines that suited up for the game saw the floor, and each broke into the scoring column. Overall, UVU's bench outscored its UNO (0-11) counterpart, 37-8, over 40 minutes.
New Orleans was led by 17 points from Danielle Davis, who did her damage on 5-of-17 shooting from the floor. Jewel Angelo, the Privateers' leading scorer, chipped in 13 on another 5-of-17 shooting clip.
For the game, the Wolverines shot 49 percent from the floor while limiting UNO to just 26 percent - helping to negate the fact that the visitors took 12 more shots than UVU on the day. The Wolverines also enjoyed a 53-40 rebounding edge and assisted on 20 of their 30 made field goals.
Utah Valley shot 53 percent in the opening half as it took a 28-point advantage over the Privateers into the locker room. Tied at 7-7 just over three minutes in, the Wolverines opened up a 20-4 rally over the next eight minutes to grab some early separation. Spooner-Knight scored eight points during the run on her way to 14 in the first half. Kuklok and Whitney Jenkins knocked down a trey apiece as well to help UVU to a 27-11 lead with 8:30 to go until halftime.
The Wolverines leaned on the accelerator to close the half, gradually extending their lead until Kuklok knocked down her second 3-pointer of the period to push the halftime score to 49-21 in favor of the home team.
Coming out of the halftime break, Utah Valley scored 15 of the second half's first 18 points to take a 64-24 lead after a left-wing trey from Doughty. It was the second three from Doughty over the first six minutes of the half and spelled a scoring drought of almost two minutes for the Wolverines. The big advantage would grow to a game-high 43 points at the 6:31 mark when Doughty fed a streaking Rebecca MaWhinney for an easy layup following a Spooner-Knight steal.
A 9-0 run from the Privateers brought the deficit down to 34 with 4:47 left, but UVU answered with a 6-2 spurt to close the game and settle the record-setting final score.
With the win, Utah Valley takes a two-game winning streak into next Saturday's WAC-opener against Bakersfield. The Wolverines and Roadrunners met twice last season and split the series as each team found a win on its home floor. That contest gets underway at 3 p.m. in the UCCU Center.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.