Scoring droughts doom women’s basketball

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The U women’s basketball team dropped two games against Pittsburgh and Oregon over the weekend at the Oregon-hosted Duck Invitational after falling into extended scoring droughts in both contests.

The Utes gained a 34-31 advantage over first-round challenger Pittsburgh after freshman forward Kalee Whipple drained a jumper nearly halfway through the second half. But Utah didn’t put another point on the board for more than five minutes while Pittsburgh’s Shavonte Zellous scored nine unanswered points.

Finally, with 7:43 remaining, Utah’s Morgan Warburton ended Zellous’ scoring streak by hitting a jumper of her own. Warburton’s bucket triggered a six-point Utah run that tied the game at 40, but Zellous scored two straight buckets and seized the lead for Pitt for good.

Even though both teams connected on 18 field goals and were within one turnover of each other–Utah had 20 and Pittsburgh had 19–the difference came down to free-throw shooting. The Panthers shot a stellar 21 of 24 from the stripe, while the Utes shot 11 of 17, a differential that ultimately led to a 59-51 defeat.

On Saturday, the Utes faced Oregon in the consolation round. Utah held a 25-17 edge at the break after shooting an outstanding 54.5 percent from the field in the first half.

Utah’s Joh-Teena Filipe came out fired up, scoring nine of Utah’s first 11 points.

“Everyone played with heart tonight,” Filipe said, adding, “Losing is a big thing that we’re not used to.”

Halie Sawyer contributed with back-to-back buckets, lifting her team to a 17-12 advantage with nine minutes left in the half. But once again, the Utes fell into a funk and were unable to score for six minutes, allowing the Ducks to stay in the game.

The drought finally ended on a Heidi Carlsen jumper with a little more than three minutes left in the half.

To continue with a common theme, the Utes came storming back with an 8-1 run and went into the intermission up 25-17.

But the Utes shot a gloomy 25 percent from the field in the second half and didn’t score in the first four minutes. The Ducks, however, failed to capitalize on Utah’s bleak shooting effort. When Filipe got the Utes onto the second half scoreboard with a pair of free throws with 15:58 remaining in the game, Utah still led 27-23.

But then it happened again. Utah didn’t score for 5:38, and Oregon wasn’t going to let another drought slip by unpunished.

Even with Utah’s three scoring dry spells, which totaled 15:40 in all, the Ducks were not able to completely pull away until the closing minutes.

With 1:31 left on the clock, Warburton pulled the Utes within five after a steal led to two free throws, but that was as close as they got as they fell to the hometown Ducks, 50-44.

“We struggled with communication on defense,” said Filipe, who scored 13 points. As far as the Utes’ offensive goes, Filipe said, “Shots weren’t falling; plays weren’t being run.”

If there is anything positive to take away from the loss, it’s that the Utes were able to stay in the game despite not scoring for 15 of 40 total minutes.

The Utes will hit the road again on Wednesday when they go up against Weber State in Ogden at 7 p.m.