Utes, Cougars, Put Winning Streaks on the Line in Women’s Basketball Clash



University of Utah Utes Women’s Basketball Team Wing Niyah Becker (14) scores during an NCAA Basketball match vs. the Eastern Washington Eagles at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Adam Cochran, Sports Writer

The University of Utah women’s basketball team (3-3, 0-0 Pac-12) will head to Provo on Friday, November 29 to face in-state rival Brigham Young University (3-1, 0-0 WCC). The Utes will come into the game with a three-win winning streak, and right now they are playing their best basketball of the year. The Cougars will bring their own three-game win streak into the rivalry game as well.


Preview — Utah

Utah comes into the rivalry game hot, winning their last three games. They have been shooting well as a team, going 45.3% on the season, while shooting 33.1% from beyond the arc. They have been rebounding well too, averaging 7.2 more rebounds than their opponents.

The main weakness for the Utes continues to be ball security, as Utah turns the ball over 16.7 times per game and only forces 14.3 each contest. The Utes distribute the ball very well, averaging 16.5 assists per game, assisting on 62.3% of their made field goals.

The Utes are led in scoring by two freshmen, Brynna Maxwell and Lola Pendande. Maxwell averages 13.5 points per game and leads the Utes in 3-pointers made, with 18. She shoots 43.8% from the field and 37.5% from deep. Pendande has been a force inside for the Utes and has been tough for opponents to stop this season. She averages 12.2 points and leads the Utes with 5.7 rebounds per game. Pendande also leads the Utes in field goal percentage, shooting an impressive 71.4% from the field while shooting 72.2% from the free throw line.

Niyah Becker joins Maxwell and Pendande as the only other Ute averaging double figures with 10.7 points per game. Becker also averages 4 rebounds per game and leads the Utes in steals with 1.8 per contest. Dru Gylten leads the Utes’ offense and finds an open teammate for an assist 5.5 times per game.


Preview — BYU

BYU comes into the game fresh off a victory against rival Utah State. The Cougars make it tough on their opponents by rebounding. In all three of their wins, BYU has out-rebounded their opponent. In those victories, BYU has pulled down an average of 14.7 more rebounds than their opponents.

The Cougars boast a lot of height on the inside, with four post players who are at least 6-feet-2-inches in height. The tallest of those players is 6-foot-7-inch junior Sara Hamson. Despite her size, Hamson is not much of a scoring threat, but is an integral part of the Cougars’ defensive efforts. She averages 11.3 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game and manages to keep out of foul trouble.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Cougars are a balanced attack, with three players averaging in double figures. Paisley Johnson leads BYU, averaging 14.3 points, 4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest. Brenna Drollinger is next for the Cougars, averaging 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. Jasmine Moody averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds in the first two games, but has not played since then for the Cougars.

The Cougars have had a similar problem as the Utes coming into the game — both teams have had issues with turnovers. BYU averages 14.3 turnovers the game and force 13 per game. The Cougars shoot only 38.3% from the field and 31.5% from three. They are a team that truly is led by their defense.


Keys to the Game


The Cougar defense’s impressive rebounding numbers are intimidating to look at. The Utes will need their best performance of the season on the glass to keep BYU honest. Pendande will have her hands full trying to rebound with Hamson, and the rest of the Utes will have to be aggressive to keep the rebounding numbers close.

Take Good, Smart Shots

The Utes have been a good shooting team this season. They will need to continue this trend to beat the Cougars. Driving to the paint and attempting to shoot over Hamson will prove difficult, so the Utes will have to be smart in their attack. Watching Pendande against Hamson will be the matchup of the night. Pendande has been impressive at scoring in the post, but Hamson has been equally impressive holding other teams from scoring on the Cougars. The Utes should look to get it inside and kick it out to open shooters such as Maxwell, Becker, Kemery Martín and Ola Makurat.

Take Care of the Ball

Playing against another team who has struggled with turnovers will give the Utes a great advantage on defense. Utah has taken advantage of the turnovers they have forced, scoring 13.8 points off turnovers per game. If they limit their own turnovers and capitalize on BYU’s, it should be a great night in Cougar town.


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