Women’s Basketball Slumped on the Road

By and

After scoring two consecutive victories over a pair of Pac-10 opponents?including an 89-42 thrashing of UCLA?the U women’s basketball team seemed in good shape heading into the winter break.

However, the Utes’ six-game road trip did not yield the hoped-for results, as they went just 3-3 in the span and dropped to 7-5 overall?giving them more losses already this season (with the conference schedule not even beginning until Jan. 10 against Wyoming) than they had all of last year (28-4).

And while this group of Utes generally displayed the same level of defensive prowess that enabled Utah to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, offensive inconsistency marred this trip.

Following is an account of the Utes’ roller coaster ride through the six-game road trip.

Oregon 63, Utah 55

On Dec. 8, the U’s two-game win streak, built against the Pac-10’s Oregon State and UCLA, came crashing to a halt.

After racing out to a 24-10 advantage, the Utes ended the opening half getting outscored 17-3?giving them a modest 28-27 lead. The Ducks maintained the momentum throughout the rest of the contest until the eight-point final margin.

The Utes’ inside game was already stymied in the first half, as senior center Lauren Beckman scored but 4 points in the game’s first 20 minutes, and it suffered further when Beckman went out with a second-half knee injury. She finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds in 27 minutes.

Erin Gibbons led the Utes with 20 points, while Oregon’s Shaquala Williams tallied 19 points and 5 rebounds.

Utah 72, Weber State 65

A strong second-half performance gave Utah the win in Ogden on Dec. 17, as the team converted 54 percent of its field goals, 50 percent of its 3-pointers and 80 percent of its freebies in the latter half to secure the win.

Senior forward Lindsay Herbert led four Utes in double-figures, nailing 7-of-9 shots?including a perfect 3 of-3 from downtown?in notching 17 points. Beckman hit 7-of-10 for 16 points, reserve center Carley Marshall added 13 points and a team best 7 rebounds, and Gibbons contributed 11 points.

Utah 72, Nevada 53

The Dec. 19 contest was never in doubt, as the Utes jumped to an 18-2 lead with 11:11 to go in the opening period and never looked back. The Utes shot 52 percent from the field, 50 from 3-point land and were perfect from the line in that first half.

The rout of the Wolfpack allowed U coach Elaine Elliott to get 11 players time on the court. Leading the way were Herbert (17 points, 6-10 FGs, 4-7 3-pt), Gibbons (16 points, 4-7 3-pt) and Beckman (11 points, 7 rebounds).

Utah 63, Montana 58

The Utes were limited to just 39.6 percent shooting, but extended to a three-game winning streak on Dec. 21 by holding the Grizzlies well below their 75 point-per-game average, as Montana connected on just 31.3 percent of its attempts.

For the third time in as many games, Herbert totaled 17 points to lead the Utes in scoring. Meanwhile, senior forward Katherine McColl earned a double-double with 11 points and 13 boards, while Gibbons chipped in 14 points.

Pacific 68, Utah 62

The U’s streak came to an end in Stockton, Calif., on Dec. 28, as poor foul shooting led to the disintegration of a 7-point lead with four minutes left.

Though Utah’s defense again was stellar, holding Pacific to just 38.5 percent shooting, its own offense proved equally inept?making only 41.2 percent of its field goals and going a horrendous 11-of-22 from the charity stripe.

Gibbons had a game-high 20 and Herbert added 18, but they were outdueled by the Pacific trio of Selena Ho (16 points), Gillian d’Hondt (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Jakehima Mercier (10 points).

San Francisco 65, Utah 56

The Dons enjoyed some success versus the normally stifling U defense, converting 45.1 percent of their shots in the Dec. 30 game to recover from a 35-32 halftime deficit and put the U on a two-game slide heading into its MWC schedule.

Beckman had a monster game, with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals, while Herbert contributed 11 points. San Francisco was led by the trio of Toni Russell, Leeanne Jensen and Alicia Hernandez, who combined for 35 of their team’s points.

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