Women’s Basketball Faces Grueling Opening Weekend


University of Utah players huddle before a free throw during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the University of Oregon at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. (Photo by Jalen Pace | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carlos Padilla


After an unceremonious cancellation of what would have been the season opener last week, the University of Utah women’s basketball is finally going to be hitting the hardwood.

The Utes will face both Pac-12 opponents from Oregon; the Oregon Ducks from Eugene and the Oregon State Beavers of Corvallis. The first two season games will serve as redemption for the Utes, as they came up short to both teams last season.

Utah will start the week against the No. 18 ranked Beavers. Utah will have to hit the floor running, as the Beavers will be in game-shape, courtesy of their 88-55 win over the Montana State Bulldogs.

Oregon State shot a blazing 51.6% from the field while holding Montana State to a meager 27.9%. This matchup will be an early test of strength for the Utah offense. It is hard to win any matchup if your opponent is shooting above 50%.

The Utes will need to focus on shutting down forward and sophomore Taylor Jones. Jones, who made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team last season, put up an impressive 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Jones also contributed with 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Other players Utah needs to watch against the Beavers are junior Jasmine Simmons and freshman Sasha Goforth.

After a one-day rest, Utah will tip-off on Sunday against Oregon.

With the departure of Sabrina Ionescu to the WNBA, Utah should fare better this time around. Ionescu was responsible for 17 of the Ducks’ 51 points, out-scoring any Utah player by at least five.

While the star is gone, Oregon will prove to be a challenge, especially after what will likely be a grueling and physical game against Oregon State.

Coming off a blowout 115-51 victory over Seattle University, Oregon already appears to be in mid-season form.

The Ducks are never short of athletes, and junior guard Taylor Mikesell proved the Ducks will be as competitive as ever. In her Oregon debut, Mikesell dropped a dazzling 28 points against the Redhawks to compliment her 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 block.

Mikesell was not the only Ducks player putting up impressive numbers. Senior Lydia Giomi recorded her first double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.

Redshirt sophomore Sedona Prince made her presence felt on the court, with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal.

Clearly, Oregon is a team that is ready to play.

Utah will have to not only worry about Oregon’s starters, but bench players as well. Oregon played all 13 members of their roster, giving even their youngest players invaluable game experience.

While it may seem like a tough road ahead, it would be foolish to count the Utes out of either game. The women’s squad is eager to get the season rolling, as they have already suffered two cancellations.

While the squad may be comparatively young, the Utes are a well-coached athletic team. With seasoned players like Andrea Torres, Niyah Becker and Ola Makurat on hand to help guide the talented underclassman, the Utes have a fair shot at any game they’re in.

In an unprecedented year, Utah women’s basketball is facing a gauntlet of an opening weekend. With two perennial competitors that already have a game under their belts, the young Utes squad will immediately be put to the test. While young, Utah is talented and has a great chance to capture a statement win early in the 2020-21 season.

Utah will first face off against the Ducks of Oregon in Eugene on Sunday, Dec. 6 at Matthew Knight Arena with tip-off at 12 p.m. MST on Pac-12 Networks. They will then travel to take on Oregon State on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon with the tip-off time TBD. Both games’ TV broadcasts remain TBD.


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This article has been updated to reflect the date changes in the opening weekend’s games.