Utes drop rematch against Buffs 73-54


--Erin Burns

The Utes could not keep up with Colorado Sunday night in the second of back-to-back games against the Buffs, dropping the contest 73-54 in the Huntsman Center. With the exception of Colorado player Haley Smith losing her shoe, everything was bouncing in the Buffaloes’ direction as the Utes have now lost six games in a row and are winless in Pac-12 play.

After being held scoreless in the first five minutes of the game only to be saved by some of the bench players, who scored the first five points for the team, the Utes were only down by three at the half.

However, the second half was a different story. Colorado shot 59.3 percent from the field and during that time, Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said the team did not compete at a high level.

“Really, really poor performance in the second half,” Levrets said. “Sort of a culmination of things and it all piled up on us in one 20-minute segment and we’re going to find out a lot about who we are in the next stretch as competitors.”

Levrets said Colorado was able to make their run by having second-chance points and they benefitted from turnovers, mentioning how his team was simply out-competed.

Danielle Rodriguez was the only Ute to record double digits, with 14 points, and said the team needs to have more focus and concentration not only coming out of halftime, but starting the game.

“We have to come into the second half and learn to adjust,” Rodriguez said. “And those adjustments put you in a hole and you lose that drive and you lose that motivation and it shouldn’t. We should still be competing hard no matter how big of a hole we got in.”

She went on to say how she felt the need to carry the team on her back this game.

“I have to be more aggressive every game, but when your team is down like that, someone has to take over, somebody has to be aggressive,” Rodriguez said. “Someone has to step up and tonight I felt like that was my role.”

Levrets said he was proud of how Rodriguez played.

“She’s been beat up physically and has a tough time keeping weight on anyway and has really, really gotten thinner here after these past few weeks of being sick and she is doing everything she can to lead the team and I thought of all that we’re asking her to do she is doing a remarkable job,” Levrets said.

One persistent struggle the team keeps having to cope with is illness. Rodriguez says it has had a tremendous impact on the team.

“I think being sick drains all of us,” Rodriguez said. “It drains you, even when you’re trying to recover you can’t get in the gym and get those extra shots up that you want.”

Taryn Wicijowski, Utah’s usual star, was a non-factor this game, as she finished with six points and three rebounds. The Colorado defense set out a plan and contained her throughout the game.

Utah was forced to attempt rushed shots as the CU defense pressured the team until the last seconds on the shot clock on a lot of possessions. Additionally, the Buffaloes grabbed 36 rebounds compared to Utah’s 28.

Utah was 36.7 percent from the floor and Rodriguez believes their poor shooting efforts could be all in their head.

“You could say it’s a mental thing that once we start missing shots that you’re hesitant to shoot,” Rodriguez said. “But personally, I need to get in the gym more and shoot. I don’t know if it’s the same with the other girls, but I need to get shooting.”

Going forward, Rodriguez is hopeful the team can change the way the season has been going and begin a turnaround.

“There’s still a lot of games left. It can easily be turned around, it’s all mental,” Rodriguez said. “We just have to be tough and come out like how we did against Stanford and Cal, doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”

The Utes will next compete on Jan. 23 against Washington State.

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