Women’s Basketball: Utah Defeats Purdue, 81-68

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As the University of Utah hosts Purdue University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.

Forward Megan Huff of the University of Utah women’s basketball team (3-1) went off for a career-high 23 points plus nine rebounds en route to the Utes win on Monday night against the Purdue Boilmakers, 81-68.

Huff’s chemistry with point guard Erika Bean had never appeared stronger on the court than it did on Monday night, with Bean distributing seven assists. Huff tallied 17 first half points after shooting one 3-pointer and going 7-of-9 from the field and 2-for-2 at the free throw line.

“Honestly, I think Bean was pushing the floor, she would pass me the ball,” Huff said. “It was a team effort.”

The contest began with a scrappy first quarter as both teams combined for 17 personal fouls. The majority of those were committed by the Boilermakers, who had 11. The Utes found ways to get into the paint and distribute the ball. Not only did Bean play a role in helping the Utes on the offensive side of things, but her determination to defend fired Utah up. Its defense limited Purdue to 34 first half points, while the Utes went into halftime up by 11.

Utah lacked the intensity it had shown in the first half when it came out to play the third quarter. This allowed the Boilermakers to inch closer into the game, however, when it seemed that Purdue had found an answer, the Utes created problems. Daneesha Provo’s spark midway through the quarter troubled Purdue. Provo ended the night with 13 points and 10 of those points came in the third quarter. Similar to Huff, she attributed her successful night to the team.

“I just went into the game with an open mind,” Provo said. “Defense, that’s what gets me going, and having my team there, encouraging me and finding me … not overthinking, not forcing it or anything.”

There were several Utes that contributed in the second half to keep the game in favor of Utah despite Purdue coming within four points.

“That was huge … and that’s what I’m most proud of. I think last year we wouldn’t have answered. We would’ve played a little tight and that’s the progression of the team and of our program that we’re just getting better,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “But Daneesha had a couple big shots, Tori Williams hit a couple big ones, Tae [Tanaeya] BoClair, we just answered the bell.”

Utah looked to BoClair to close out the game. BoClair opened the season as a returning starter, but she has come off the bench the past two games, and Roberts likes what she has offered in that role.

“[Tanaeya] has been great. What a valuable senior,” Roberts said. “She [has] been starting and then I’ve brought her off the bench the last two games and she’s played her, I think, her best two games. I don’t know why, I think she just has that calming presence for us. She’s tough as nails and she knows. She’s like the coach out on the floor.”

The Utes will next face the Incarnate Word Cardinals on Friday, Nov. 24 at 3:30 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.

j.negrette@dailyutahchronicle.com

@Juanderful887

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