Utah Women’s Basketball Tips Off Season Versus Cincinnati and Xavier


DANEESHA PROVO (23) as The University of Utah Lady Utes take on Brigham Young University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturaday, Dec. 8, 2018 (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Adam Cochran, Sports Writer

The University of Utah Women’s Basketball team begins the season this week with a road trip to Cincinnati for two games. The Utes open the season after a successful 2018-2019 campaign. The Utes reached as high as No. 14 in the nation, before injuries decimated the team and they finished with a record of 20-10, posting a 9-9 record in Pac-12 play.

The Utes return a young team. At their exhibition game last week, the Utes started one senior, Kiana Moore, one junior, Julie Brosseau, two sophomores, Dru Gylten and Andrea Torres, and a freshman, Lola Pendande. Utah has only three seniors on the roster, Moore, Zuzanna Pac and Daneesha Provo. The experience of these three players will be crucial to the success of the young Utes. In a press conference following the exhibition game, Head Coach Lynne Roberts said that if the team takes on the personality of Moore, they will be very tough for anyone to beat.


All About the Bearcats

Cincinnati is coming off a historic season in 2018-2019 — finishing with a record of 24-11 — including an impressive 17-2 home record. The Bearcats’ record was good enough for a third place finish in the American Athletic Conference.

They return five starters, including 2019 all-AAC second-team award recipient Antoinette Miller, a 5’6” guard who averaged 13.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.9 steals per contest a season ago, and forward Iimar’I Thomas — an all-AAC first-team selection — who averaged 12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

The Bearcats’ starting five are experienced, but like the Utes, they have many newcomers, welcoming nine to the team. Cincinnati was picked to finish third again at AAC preseason media day.


Getting to Know the Musketeers

Xavier is coming off an 11-19 season, finishing last-place in the Big East Conference. Junior forward A’riana Gray was unanimously selected to the preseason all-Big East team after a sophomore campaign that saw her average 13.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Xavier will be under direction of first year head coach Melanie Moore this season. The Musketeers were picked to finish eighth in the preseason Big East coaches poll.


What to Watch For

Utah’s talented freshman class had a strong showing against Westminster in the exhibition game. The class is headlined by Pendande who scored 12 points and added 4 rebounds in 14 minutes of action. Brynna Maxwell added a team high 15 points and 3 rebounds on 50% shooting. Backup point guard Kemery Martín added 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists for the Utes. Watch out for the talented freshman to make a big mark on the season for Utah.

Maxwell and Martín are part of a Utah bench that scored a total of 52 points for the Utes against the Griffins. This adds up to 59% of the total points scored by the Utes. It was a game that  Roberts rested the starters to get the younger players some minutes, but the bench will be a large part of the game plan for the Utes this upcoming season.

This will be the first true action for the Utes this season. Look for them to come out strong as they look to repeat their out-of-conference success from a year ago.

They will face off against the Cincinnati Bearcats on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. That game is available for stream from gobearcats.com. Following the game against the Bearcats, the Utes will stay in Cincinnati where they will play a game against Xavier University on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 5 p.m. This game will be available for stream at goxavier.com.


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