LAS VEGAS – The No. 4 seed UMKC women’s basketball team (16-14) defeated the No. 5 seed Utah Valley Wolverines (14-16), 78-75, in the quarterfinal round of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament at the Orleans Arena. The Roos used full-court defensive pressure to force 13 turnovers. That suffocating defense was key during a game-decisive 12-0 run, which included three Utah Valley turnovers, early in the fourth quarter.
The win advances the Roos to the WAC semifinals against No. 1 seed New Mexico State Friday at Noon PT / 2 p.m. CT. UMKC lost both meetings with the Aggies earlier this year by single digits.
Junior Ericka Mattingly led the Roos with 27 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. The First-Team All-WAC selection, who has now strung together 14-straight games with 10-plus points, set the UMKC single-game WAC tournament record with the scoring output. Senior Kristen Moore posted her third double-double of the year with 11 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. WAC Freshman of the Year Leilah Vigil grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with six points.
“I’m just so proud of our team and the fight that they showed,” said head coach Jacie Hoyt. “People don’t really talk about this, but we have 10 new players who have never played in this tournament. To think of the magnitude of this stage that so many new ones (players) were on, I’m just so proud of the way they stepped up and fought through adversity.
“Utah Valley is really a great team and played really well today. They had a good game plan and I thought they executed well. At the end of the day, it just came down to challenging our best players and I thought they did a great job of really stepping up to that challenge and it paid off.”
After its largest lead at 67-54 at the 6:43 mark of the fourth quarter, UMKC saw the Wolverines claw back to within three on four occasions, all within the final two-and-half minutes.
With the momentum on Utah Valley’s side and UMKC clinging to a 72-69 lead with 57 seconds remaining Mattingly drained a clutch 3-pointer, her fourth of the game. That play was the epitome of the native of Wichita, Kan., and the reason she is one the best shooters in the league. She entered today ranked in the top 40 nationally in scoring.
The Roos, who will be making their second-ever semifinal WAC appearance, got off to a hot start never trailing in the first quarter. A three-pointer from junior Awal Ajak gave UMKC its largest lead of the quarter at 21-10. Heading into the second stanza up 21-12, the Roos continued to score frequently taking a 36-30 advantage into the locker room.
At that point, Mattingly already had 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. As a team, the Roos shot 42 percent (13 of 31) and were plus-five in rebounding (22-17).
In the third quarter, Utah Valley’s Alexis Cortez scored five points during a 10-4 run that tied it all at 40-40 with 6:28 left. Eventually, the Wolverines took a brief lead twice, the largest at 42-40 on a Josie Williams bucket. From there, the game went back-and-forth with no lead larger than four points until junior Cristina Soriano’s three-point play at the 8:52 mark of the fourth quarter.
Soriano, who came off the bench to score seven points, ignited that crucial 12-0 run and UMKC held on late with free throws for the tournament win.
Freshman Emily Ivory had the hot hand off the bench once again for UMKC. She connected on three trifectas in the first half and four overall to finish with 16 points.
Utah Valley was led in scoring by Cortez with 22 points. Jordan Holland was next with 16, while Maria Carvalho had 12 and Eve Braslis finished with 10 and a team-high seven rebounds.
#WACvegas tournament quick-hitters
- The No. 4 seed is the highest all-time for the Roos in the WAC tournament.
- UMKC improves to 2-5 all-time in the WAC tournament, since becoming league members in 2013-14. The previous win occurred in the 2017 tournament.
- The semifinal appearance Friday will be the second for the Roos in WAC history. In 2017, UMKC lost to New Mexico State, 71-63, in the round of four.
- UMKC moves to 1-1 against Utah Valley in the tournament.
- The Roos better their record to 11-4 when leading at the half this season.
- The 78 points scored is the highest amount for UMKC in the WAC tournament in seven all-time contests.
- The Roos sweep all three meetings with Utah Valley this year.
- UMKC held a 38-29 rebounding advantage against the Wolverines.
- In bench scoring, UMKC was better in that category by a 30-10 margin.
- Ericka Mattingly
- Set a UMKC single-game WAC tournament record with 27 points
- With her 27 points today, she has now strung together 14-straight games with 10-plus points. Overall, she has hit double-digits in 28-of-30 games this year.
- With five assists today, Mattingly now stands six shy of tying Penny Waggner’s school single-season assist record (188) set back in the 1984-85 season. She now has 182 heading into Friday’s semifinal.
- She pushed her season scoring total to 577, which is good for fourth on the UMKC single-season list. She needs three more points to pass the third position.
- Leilah Vigil
- Her 11 rebounds today pushed her season total to 17 games with at least 10 boards.
- Emily Ivory
- With 82 three-pointers on the year, she is five away from tying the single-season individual school record set by Veda McNeal (1992-93), who had 87. Ivory already established herself as the record holder for UMKC freshmen with her season 3-pointers.
- Kristen Moore
- Recorded her third double-double of the year with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
- Is the only player with previous WAC tournament experience. Today was her sixth postseason game and she now has 70 tournament points
- Ericka Mattingly