Weekend road trip leaves Utes with two losses


— Chris Ayers

After registering a win last weekend to start the 2014 campaign, the Utes could not find the same fortune on the road, dropping their matches to Creighton, 64-56, and No. 16 Nebraska, 66-43, over the weekend.
In its first game against the Blue Jays, Utah led 21-16 with 2:03 left in the first half, but Creighton went on a 7-0 run to end the first slate and headed into halftime with a 23-21 lead.
The Utes would retake the lead with 11:39 remaining in the second half, but later found themselves down eight points thanks to a 13-4 run from Creighton. The Utes couldn’t bounce back from the eight-point deficit, as they ended up losing by the same difference in the end.
Despite the loss, Utah head coach Anthony Levrets was impressed with the team’s performance, other than the three-minute stretch in the second half that saw the Utes fall behind.
“We were good in most areas — we just had a time frame where we didn’t handle the changing defense,” Levrets said. “That cost us the game.”
Leading the way for the Utes was senior Taryn Wicijowski, who recorded her second straight double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Blue Jays were led by reigning Big East Conference Player of the Year Marissa Janning, who had a game high of 15 points. Both star players struggled shooting the ball, however, as they shot 5-for-16 and 5-for-18 respectively.
“We did a really nice job on her — she’s a heck of a player,” Levrets said about defending Janning. “It’s the reason why it’s so disappointing to come out of there with a loss.”
Things didn’t get much better in Utah’s second game of the weekend, as the Cornhuskers led from tip-off until the final whistle.
Utah only scored 3 points in the first 10 minutes of the game while Nebraska was already at 17. The Utes managed to score 14 points in the last 10 minutes of the first half, but were still no match for the Cornhuskers as they were down 21 at the half, 38-17.
“We got off to a slow start offensively and they jumped out on us,” Levrets said. “We had gotten ourselves buried so deeply that it was tough to make up significant ground.”
Wicijowski mustered up just two points at the half, both coming off of free throws. She would finish the game with six points on a disappointing 1-for-6 shooting.
“I think for her, it’s getting the feel of playing again when you sat out due to injury,” Levrets said. “We believe in her — I told her I wouldn’t trade her for anybody in the world.”
A Malia Nawahine jumper with 14:21 left in the game brought the Utes within 13, but that was as close as Utah would get in the second half. Nebraska ran away with the game in the second slate, increasing its lead to 27 at one point.
Nawahine was the only Ute in double figures with 14 points, while the Utah bench combined for a measly one point in the game.
“It was a tough weekend for us offensively,” Levrets said. “Team win or team loss, we struggled as a group.”
[email protected]