The season is done. After defeating Houston Baptist 69-61 in the first round of the Great West Conference Tournament the University of Texas Pan-American women’s basketball program fell 72-61 against Utah Valley in the semifinals at Orem, Utah.
“We were very excited, it was the first time at a conference tournament for all of us,” freshman Bianca Torre said. “We were hopeful we’d win it all, but we gave it what we had, we worked hard and played well but fell in the second round.”
The loss was an unfortunate one. The Lady Broncs led throughout the game until the last eight minutes, when the Wolverines caught up and overcame them.
Following the victory against UTPA, Utah Valley defeated North Dakota 70-62 Saturday. North Dakota came into the GWC Tournament as the leader in the standings but the host school came through with an upset.
For the Lady Broncs, the 2009-10 season demonstrated that a team can improve based on daily work and finding team chemistry. The record stood at 2-12 by the end of 2009 but improved to 11-6 in 2010 adding up to a 13-18 mark. The women fell one triumph short of tying the school record for most wins in a season.
Coach Denny Downing, who came to UTPA last summer, reflected on his first year as head coach, mentioning that commitment to the program is what moved the squad forward as the season progressed.
“I can’t say enough about the kids I inherited. There is not a kid on the team that I recruited,” he pointed out in a press release. “We started the season 0-8. Had we won today, we would have tied the school record for most wins in a season.”
In addition, freshman Torre was named to the GWC All-Tournament Team, and is the conference Newcomer of the Year. Torre scored 22 points against Utah Valley, and led the stats averaging 13.6 points per game with a total of 407 points in 30 games. The Harlingen native started all but one game this season.
“It’s a great honor, I think there were a couple of girls in the team who deserved it too, but I thank God and my teammates. I was very excited,” she said.
Now that the season is over, Torre looks at her first campaign as a collegiate player as a good experience, which she attributes to support from coaches and teammates. Particularly, she holds reverence for the exiting seniors – Rose Esther Jean, Aleeya Grigsby, Marah Guzman, Rachel Hester, and Taylor Schneider – who set an example of the way a veteran player should lead.
“I’m really sad, they were very good leaders; they made my first experience very memorable,” Torre said. “Whoever is coming next as a senior next year must fill in their shoes. We are going to be wiser next year, we know other teams better, and we can adjust now because we want to win the conference.”