Utah Women’s Basketball Games Canceled for Second Straight Week Due to COVID-19


Rachel Rydalch Shelton

Pep talk from team captains to prepare the Utah Utes women’s basketball team to take on Lipscomb University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Nov. 10, 2021. (Photo by Rachel Rydalch Shelton | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


The University of Utah women’s basketball team will have to wait another week to get into Pac-12 play as their games against UCLA and USC this weekend have been canceled.

This will mark the third and fourth games postponed by COVID-19 due to problems within the Utah program, via a Utah press release sent earlier Tuesday.

The Utes have not played a game since Dec. 21 in a game against Oklahoma.

Utah is coming off an 83-76 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners, concluding out-of-conference play for Utah this season. The Utes enter conference play with an extremely impressive 8-3 record. Against Oklahoma, rising star Gianna Kneepkens dropped 19 points and had five rebounds. Kneepkens has been extremely impressive throughout the non-conference play. She is currently averaging 10.8 points per game.

Also impressive against Oklahoma was Peyton McFarland who grabbed 11 boards in the loss to the Sooners. McFarland has started the season slowly on the rebounding end, averaging only 4.7 per game thus far. But this latest performance showed just how high her upside can be.

Several times last year and this year, coach Lynne Roberts remarked that COVID-19 had made last season one of the most challenging to coach in her time at the helm. It seems the same reality is setting in this year for the Utes.

The constant starting and stopping of this season will be yet another challenge for this group to overcome.

It is unclear how severe the problems are within the program. However, games being canceled for two weeks straight points toward the conclusion that the team has had a very serious outbreak.

The Utes will now either have to find a way to make up these four crucial conference matchups or give them up on their schedule, which would seriously hurt the team’s chances come March when the NCAA looks at resumes for March Madness.

The Utes next two games will come on Jan. 13 and 16, assuming the current COVID-19 chaos surrounding the team has gotten under control by then. The Utes are scheduled to play Cal and national powerhouse Stanford the next time they step on the court, which will be a pair of extremely tough games coming off what has already been a very challenging month.


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