Utah Women’s Basketball Set For NorCal Road Trip

University+of+Utah+womens+basketball+player%2C+PEYTON+MCFARLAND+%28%2342%29%2C+celebrates+a+field+goal+with+her+teammate+in+the+game+against+Montana+State+University+on+Dec.+11%2C+2020+in+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City.+%28Photo+by+Jack+Gambassi+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

University of Utah women’s basketball player, PEYTON MCFARLAND (#42), celebrates a field goal with her teammate in the game against Montana State University on Dec. 11, 2020 in the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer

 

The University of Utah women’s basketball team is finding their stride offensively as they look to take on the University of California, Berkeley on Friday and Stanford University on Sunday in Northern California.

Earlier in the season, Brynna Maxwell had her best scoring outing of the season against Oregon State, where she dropped over 30 points on the team. Last week, Maxwell put up 27 points Sunday and went a perfect 11-11 from the free-throw line.

Kemery Martín contributed 16 points to a shooting night in which the Utes shot 35% from the floor. All that said, the Utes still fell to the Beavers 84-74.

Earlier this season, head coach Lynne Roberts called the defensive performance versus UCLA as one of their most embarrassing performances to date, but the Utes have a tendency to bounce back after bad defensive games. After allowing 92 points against UCLA and 82 against Stanford, the Utes only allowed 66 points against Arizona in a loss.

The Utes have rebounded the ball well during the past three games, averaging 35.6 boards per game — which, in large part, is due to the play of Niyah Becker and Peyton McFarland.

This is the first time the Utes will see Cal this year. The first game between the two teams was postponed earlier last month. Cal comes in as the worst team in the Pac-12, with a record of 0-11. The Utes cannot afford to look past anyone, though, and they won’t be looking past the Golden Bears.

The Utes will then go to Stanford, currently the sixth-ranked team in the nation.

The first time Utah saw Stanford, they lost 82-54 and Roberts credited them as one of the toughest defenses that the Utes had faced all year. The Utes usually fare better against opponents during their second matches, so this game against Stanford may be a bit closer — though Stanford still boasts one of the best rosters in the entire country.

The thing that continues to stand out about Stanford is their tremendous depth — their leading scorer’s numbers are not that far off from Brynna Maxwell’s, but the Cardinal have four players averaging double-digit numbers.

Haley Jones leads Stanford’s squad with 14.8 points a game and 8.8 rebounds per game, nearly averaging a double-double. She is an incredibly impressive player and one that will no doubt see the matchup of Utah’s best defender in Kemery Martín. Coach Roberts had nothing but praise for Martín’s defense in her latest press conference.

“That was the biggest thing last year, we knew she could score, but she would get scored on more than she scored. She’s just turned into a very reliable defender; she was on Tay Hanson and she held her to two points. She did just a remarkable job. All aspects of the game she’s improved, but it’s been really fun to see her blossom and come out of her shell where you know she’s having fun again,” Roberts said. She also noted that Hanson hit a desperation three in the fourth and actually posted five points.

The focus will then shift towards Kianna Williams averaging 13.4 points per game for Stanford. As the Utes look ahead to a possible tournament run, it is important to show growth against these big Pac-12 sides the second time around.

There is no rest for the weary in the Pac-12, the tough matchups just keep coming for Utah, but they are looking to remain competitive throughout the rest of the season and that starts with a win against Cal and a competitive effort against Stanford a second time around.

 

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