Women’s Basketball: Utes Fall in NIT

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Ute Wing Paige Crozon (14) passes the ball between Duck Guard Maite Cazorla (5) and Forward Jacinta Vandenberg (15) during the Utah Utes Women's annual "Pink Game" vs. the Oregon Ducks at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

After a first round loss in the Pac-12 tournament earlier this month, the University of Utah women’s basketball team was invited to participate in the WNIT tournament. The Utes took to the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Friday, March 17 as they prepared to battle UC Davis. When the final buzzer sounded, the Utes saw their season come to a close with a 72-62 loss.

“We started off down 10-0 and we lost by 10,” said head coach Lynne Roberts after the game. “I am not saying that is why we lost, but I don’t know why we started that way. They played well and they got buckets when they needed to. We just seemed a little bit discombobulated. It is disappointing to finish in your last game to feel like you didn’t play up to your potential.”

In spite of her team’s loss, Roberts had some words of praise for the opposing team.

“You have to give UC Davis a lot of credit,” Roberts said. “They played really well and they kind of threw the first punch.”

The Utes started the game off by missing their first three shots, while UC Davis was a perfect 4-of-4, a stretch that saw the Aggies nail back to back three-point shots. After the first quarter, the home team found themselves down by a score of 24-12.

The Utes found some rhythm offensively in the second quarter. Junior wing Tanaeya Boclair and senior wing Paige Crozon showed off their long range abilities as the two players connected on back to back three point shots early in the second quarter. The lead continued to seesaw back and forth as both teams connected on shots. The Utes were able to outscore their opponent in the second period, but UC Davis still held a 40-30 lead at halftime.

Boclair got the Utes to within eight points at the start of the second half, and the Utes capitalized as they went on a 11-3 run to cut the lead to just one point, 44-43. The Aggies came back at the Utes with a three point play as the visiting team eventually extended their lead to eight points. Junior forward and team leading scorer Emily Potter responded with two baskets in a row to bring the Utes back to within just four.

Utah was able to outscore the Aggies once again in the third quarter, but the first quarter deficit was too much for the Utes to overcome.

In spite of the loss, the night was still historic for the home team. Crozon scored just eight points in the game, but that was enough for her to join the elite 1,000 point club. Crozon became the 27th player to do so after Potter joined the club earlier this season in a win against Northern Arizona.

“I have said it before, but they don’t come any better than Paige just in terms of the person she is and that is what I just told the team,” Roberts said after the game. “I think the one thing we can all learn from Paige is that it was always maximum effort and team first.”

j.walch@dailyutahchronicle.com

@JaredWalch

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