Women’s basketball: Lessons from a Split Weekend

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The University of Utah women’s basketball team hit the road and took to the golden state for a pair of games against Cal and Stanford. The Utes played well enough to get the split as they beat Cal but fell at Stanford two days later.

“We are coming off a solid weekend. We had a great win at Cal last Friday,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “I thought we played really, really well. We didn’t play perfectly, because no one does, but we did what we wanted to do on both ends of the floor. Then we played No. 9 Stanford and didn’t really play well. It’s kind of been how the season’s gone this whole conference season.”

Against Cal, the Utes had one of their best games of the season. The Golden Bears, prior to last Friday’s matchup, led the Pac-12 in shooting at nearly 48 percent. The Utes held the home team to just 37 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc.

California won the tip and scored, and forced the Utes to miss their first six shots. Junior wing Malia Nawahine nailed a three-pointer to put the Utes on top, and senior wing Paige Crozon got back-to-back steals and she helped put Utah up 5-2 at the first media timeout. Both teams came back out and traded buckets, but at the end of the first quarter it was California who took the lead, 18-13.

The Utes have struggled in second quarters this season, but there were no second quarter woes in this game. The Utes came out rolling and outscored the best shooting team in the conference 24-11 to take a 37-29 lead at the half.

Four Utes tallied double figures in that game, as Nawahine, junior wing Tanaeya Boclair, sophomore guard Erika Bean, and junior forward Emily Potter scored 16, 14, 12 and 10 respectively. The win marked Utah’s 15th of the year and fourth conference victory.

Against Stanford, the Utes struggled to start. At the end of the first quarter, the Cardinal held a 31-8 lead. Utah played Stanford even in the second quarter, but it was still down 43-20 at the half. In the third quarter, Utah played one of its best quarters all season long, but Stanford refused to go away and their lead grew to 30 points in the fourth quarter. When the final buzzer sounded, the Cardinal took the 87-51 win, marking Utah’s worst loss this season.

Roberts said she wasn’t sure what happened in the first quarter of the Stanford game, especially since the Utes played well the rest of the game. She did, however, give a lot of credit to Stanford for playing well.

Coming up this weekend, the Utes host a pair of home games against Oregon and Oregon State. The Ducks are surging right now, coming off wins against USC and a ranked UCLA team, and Oregon State currently sits at No.11 in the nation right now. Roberts and her team aren’t worried about the prospect of facing two more good teams this weekend.

“I think at this point we are done talking about ranked opponents, that goes without saying in this conference,” Roberts said. “Hopefully we can show up with the same intensity we showed up with Friday against California.”

The Utes lost the previous two games they played against the Oregon teams earlier this year.

j.walch@dailyutahchronicle.com

@JaredWalch

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