The Kansas City women’s basketball team secured their first ever regular season WAC Championship with a 61-53 victory over the Utah Valley Wolverines last week. The win gives the Roos the top seed in the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas.
“We’ve got something really special here as you got to see tonight,” said Head Coach Jacie Hoyt. “This is something that we are so proud of, and it’s incredibly hard to become the first team to do anything. I think this is a monumental mark for the program and the entire athletic department.”
The Roos got in foul trouble early and struggled from the field in the first half, shooting 34%. Senior guard Awal Ajak and junior forward Jada Mickens stepped up to the plate offensively, scoring eight points apiece in the half to give Kansas City a two-point halftime lead. Senior guard Ericka Mattingly added 12 points in the game as well.
“I had been struggling recently, but having Coach Jacie constantly talk to me and having my teammates encourage me really helped me,” said Ajak. “Today, I was like, ‘I’m gonna let it fly.’”
Ajak scored 11 points in the second half, including three triples to give her a career-high 19 points. However, the story of the game was on defense. Utah Valley tied the game at 53 on free throws after trading buckets to start the fourth quarter, and the score would remain deadlocked for four minutes. The Roos’ defense stepped up in the final minutes, forcing two turnovers and holding Utah Valley without a field goal in the last five minutes of the game to pull away.
“I just know that this game was going to be about getting stops, and we got wide-open layups at the end because of our defense,” Hoyt said.
Kansas City followed up the monumental victory with 68-65 win over Seattle U on Saturday to close out the regular season. The Roos reached 20 wins for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Senior guard Ericka Mattingly led the Roos offensively with 16 points, while senior forward Cristina Soriano and Ajak added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Kansas City enters the WAC Tournament on a five-game winning streak and will face Chicago State in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 2 p.m.