In an overtime battle, the University of Utah women’s basketball team (17-11 overall, 8-9 Pac 12) fell short to the University of Southern California (18-10 overall, 8-9) 53-52 in the final seconds of the game. The Utes fought against the Trojans with eight ties and 13 lead changes in the game. It was a tight offensive matchup as Utah shot 52.9 percent for the game, while USC shot 53.8 percent from the field. Struggling from the free throw line, Utah went 9-of-17 and USC went 7-of-13 from the stripe.
“This one hurts,” said head coach Lynne Roberts in a Utah athletics press release. “We were short-handed tonight without Daneesha Provo and Megan Huff. I thought our team executed the game plan exactly how we talked about and showed some serious toughness”.
Emily Potter recorded a double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Tilar Clark had 12 points and six rebounds for the night, Erika Bean contributed 9 points and three assists. Kristen Simon was the leading scorer for the Trojans with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Both teams struggled to shoot the ball early in the game and ended up scoring 11 points each in the first quarter, but Utah battled defensively as it forced four turnovers. Potter struck fast, with six of her 20 points coming from the first quarter.
The second quarter kicked off with two ties and three lead changes in the first four minutes. The Trojans outscored Utah 13-9 in the second quarter to give themselves a 24-20 advantage over the Utes going into the half.
The momentum shifted to Utah in the third quarter when the team went on a 7-0 run in the last two minutes. Potter had a fastbreak layup and Clark went 2-of-2 behind the free throw line. One free throw by Tanaeya Boclair and another layup by Potter put the Utes up 35-34 heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter turned into a defensive battle as the Utes scored 10 points and the Trojans scored 11. Tori Williams’ layup tied the game at 43 with 4:12 to play. A layup by Kristen Simon and a successful free throw by Clark and Potter tied the game again at 45 to force overtime.
The Utes jumped out to a 51-47 lead in the extra period, but after a couple free throws for each team, the Trojans made a jumper to make it a one-score game. A 3-pointer by Simon sealed the victory for USC, and Utah was unable to bounce back in the final seconds.
Roberts was proud of the way her team fought and will look to regroup for the final regular season game against a top 10 ranked UCLA team.
“We missed some free throws, the ball didn’t bounce our way a few times, and they made the last play,” Roberts said in a Utah Athletics press release. “ Definitely a tough loss, but no different than any other when it’s all said and done, so we need to get some rest and bounce back”.
Utah takes on No. 10 UCLA on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m.