The University of Utah women’s basketball team had two upsets this week against the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles teams.
Utah started off the game against USC behind, but ended up catching up and tying the score at 68-68. Utah tried to push past the Trojans, but USC came through to take a 84-80 win against the Utes.
“We couldn’t keep them in front of us in the first quarter and the beginning of the third, so we went to that zone and it worked,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “We caught up, but we couldn’t capitalize. I felt like momentum was on our side and things were working our way but we just missed a lot of shots when we had every opportunity to take the lead and take control of the game.”
By the end of the game, the Utes had five players reach double-digits in game points. Redshirt freshman Dru Gylten led the Utes with 24 points. Following Gylten was Megan Huff with 13, Kiana Moore with 11, and both Dre’Una Edwards and Andrea Torres scored 10 points each.
“We scored 42 points in the first half and that should be good enough,” said Roberts. “The problem wasn’t our offense, it was our defense. We couldn’t get stops and so that puts pressure on your offense. Any empty possessions, because you aren’t getting stops, makes it feel like you haven’t scored in forever. So, you think if we score 80 points we should win with how we’ve defended all year, but we gave up 84 tonight. We haven’t given that much up at home this season. Second half, defensively, we did a much better job, but 50 in the first half crushes you and you can’t do that in this league.”
The Utes then moved on to play UCLA on Sunday, Feb. 10. Despite Huff leading the Utes with 23 points, 13 rebounds and three assists, and Edwards following right behind with a career-high of 21 points, Utah fell short once more at 100-80 against the Bruins. The Utes have fallen to 18-5 overall and 7-5 in Pac-12 play.
“They shot 73 percent in the fourth quarter, they just weren’t missing shots,” said Roberts. “Part of that was a reflection of our defensive intensity, but also I think UCLA did a nice job. They have some players that can shoot and they weren’t missing there in the fourth quarter, and they made a lot of contested jump shots. So, you have to give them some credit. When you score 90 points, you think that should be good enough, but it was our defense that wasn’t great.”
Utah started off the season dominating going 13 games undefeated, and other teams have stayed aware of this, making sure they are matching up well to the Utes. Despite losing their past four games, the Utes are looking forward and aware that changes need to be made in order to finish off the season strong as they started.
“We have to come to the awareness that we have a target on our back now,” said Roberts. “Teams get focused to play us. We have to have a little bit more of a fight to us. I thought Huff was great today. She played like a senior and was fearless. But if you would have asked me if we would have had more offensive rebounds than them and if I thought we’d win, I would have said absolutely.”
The Utes will now be on the road for games against Arizona on Friday, Feb. 15 and Arizona State on Sunday, Feb. 17. Earlier this season, the Utes lost to Arizona State 63-65 and won against Arizona 80-64.
The first game against Arizona will be streamed live by Arizona and games against Arizona State will be also streamed by the Pac-12 Networks.