Utah Women’s Basketball Struggle Against No. 1 Stanford

University+of+Utah+women%27s+basketball+player%2C+Dru+Gylten+%28%2310%29%2C+talks+to+teammates+Andrea+Torres+%28%233%29%2C+Kemery+Martin+%28%2315%29%2C+and+Brynna+Maxwell+%28%2311%29%2C+in+the+game+against+Arizona+State+University+in+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+center+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Dec.+18%2C+2020.+%28Photo+by+Jack+Gambassi+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

University of Utah women’s basketball player, Dru Gylten (#10), talks to teammates Andrea Torres (#3), Kemery Martin (#15), and Brynna Maxwell (#11), in the game against Arizona State University in the Jon M. Huntsman center in Salt Lake City on Dec. 18, 2020. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carlos Padilla

 

The University of Utah women’s basketball team welcomed the No. 1 ranked Stanford Cardinal into the Huntsman Center for their most daunting challenge of the year. While hard-fought, Utah came up short, with a final score of 82-54.

While the Utes came off the tip with energy, it did not take long for Stanford to hit its stride. The Cardinal successfully held the Utes to a mere eight points in the first quarter.

While Utah struggled to find the basket, Stanford started hot from the floor, putting up 23 in the opening period.
The Utes were victims to an unforgiving officiating crew, with most of the calls in the first half going in favor of the Cardinal.

Not one to go down without a fight, Utah began mounting a second-quarter comeback.

With a clear emphasis on cutting down turnovers and more uncompromising defense, the Utes began eating away at the deficit. The Utes were able to hold Stanford to 17 points in the second quarter. However, they still went into the locker room down 40-25.

Utah continued to show signs of struggling with their constant season-long thorns in their sides, turnovers. Many potential scoring drives were cut short through bad passes, travels, or unfortunate shakes with the referees.

The Utes came out of the locker room, flat, unable to find a shot or stop the Cardinal. Kiana Williams, of Stanford, lit up the Utes from downtown.

Utah’s shooting struggles continued as the half progressed. Utah appeared off balance and unable to find a shot, often being forced deep into the shot clock and throwing up prayers as the clock expired.

The Utes also failed to rip down defensive boards, allowing Stanford second and third chance points. By the end of the third quarter, Stanford’s lead had ballooned to 29. The Cardinal demonstrated why they’re first in the country. With strong ball movement, excellent shot selection, and lockdown defense, the Cardinal seemed to take the air out from the Utes.

The fourth quarter passed similarly to the third. Stanford remained hot on the floor while the Utes struggled to stop them. Niyah Becker for the Utes found a bit of rhythm. However, it was too little, too late. The final score for the ballgame was 82-54. While Utah has had constant struggles with turnovers, they also could not put down their free throws. Overall, the Utes struggled with offense, with only two Utah players hitting double digits (Kennady McQueen and Kemery Martín).

While the Utes have hit a rough patch, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Utes will face the California Golden Bears on Sunday. California has had a rough season and is currently searching for their first win.

A home game against a struggling opponent may be just what the Utes need to shake them out of their slump. Beating the Golden Bears would also add another Pac-12 victory to the Utes’ record, something that should never be taken for granted.

While Utah has been in a rough patch, one cannot discount them quite yet. Utah still has talent and spirit. However, as head coach Lynne Roberts stated previously, the Utes are in an extremely competitive conference. Utah has had to face one top 25 ranked team after another.

Nevertheless, the time for excuses has come to an end. The Utes need to address the critical issues that have plagued them all season, should they wish to pick up a few more victories.

Only time will tell if the Utes will fold under the immense pressure or come out fighting for the rest of the season.

 

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@CPadilla67