Utah Women’s Basketball Falls Short After Turnovers Doom Them in Arizona


Rachel Rydalch

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 | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


A University of Utah women’s basketball comeback falls short in Tucson as Utah falls to Arizona 76-64. The Utes were done in by a first half in which they turned the ball over 15 times.

That number is two higher than the season-long average of 13 per game. The Utes finish the night with 22 turnovers total, a number simply too high to overcome as Arizona hit several three pointers off turnovers in the first half.

Arizona had a 21-point swing in points off turnovers within the game. That kind of a swing is obviously going to turn a game and did so in this one.

Arizona leading scorer Sam Thomas had an excellent night. Thomas scored 25 points and shot the ball extremely well, going 7-11 from the field. Arizona’s leading scorer on the year Cate Reese also had a fantastic night, scoring an impressive 14 points on the evening.

The Utes had an above average shooting night on the evening, going 22-47 from the floor. Shooting from three wasn’t quite as sharp as the Utes went 5-16 in that category.

The Utes continue to make progress as a rebounding team as they out-boarded the Wildcats by ten on the night.

Leading scorers for the Utes were: Gianna Kneepkens (15 points), Brynna Maxwell (13 points) and Peyton McFarland (12 points).

What Coach Had to Say

“I’m proud of my team — Arizona is talented and tough and physical, and this is a really hard place to play,” head coach Lynne Roberts said in a Utah Press Release. “We had a couple minute stretch in the 2nd quarter where we turned it over, and they capitalized on it. We couldn’t quite get back on top after that stretch. But we never quit and cut it to six late in the 4th. Sam Thomas is a tremendous player and made huge plays tonight when her team needed it — hats off to her.”

Let’s look now at a breakdown of how the rest of the game played out in the 10 minute report.

First Quarter

The Utes started hot from the floor, shooting 6-11 in the first quarter, most of that offense coming from inside the paint. A week ago head coach Lynne Roberts commented on Peyton McFarland getting more and more healthy, and now it certainly seems like she is fully back. McFarland had 8 points in the first quarter.

The Utes out-rebounded Arizona 10-6 in the paint in the first quarter. Those kind of starting numbers are a positive for a Ute team that has struggled with size and rebounding at times. The Utes finished the quarter with a 17-15 lead.

Second Quarter

Things devolved for the Utes, a two-point lead turning into a 15-point deficit very quickly after Arizona hit three 3-point shots in a row and went 10-15 shooting in the second frame of play.

Turnovers also become an issue for the Utes with 15 in the first half. Those kinds of numbers can cause things to devolve quickly for a team as things did for the Utes in the second quarter.

The Utes continue to rebound well with a seven to six lead over Arizona in the second quarter. The turnovers though are what kill the Utes in this frame of basketball. That and tremendous three point shooting from Arizona.

Leading scorers at the half for Utah  were Peyton McFarland with 10 points and Dasia Young with seven points.

Third Quarter

The Utes clawed their way back, shooting an impressive 7-11 from the floor to make the lead 54-43 Arizona. Gianna Kneepkens led the scorers, shooting 3-5 and putting up 9 points in the frame.

The Utes did a better job with turnovers, limiting them to only three in the third quarter. With improved turnover numbers and great shooting, the Utes were able to break the lead down.

Utah continued with dominance in the post, out-rebounding Arizona 9-5 in the frame.

Fourth Quarter

The Utes staged a late comeback but fell just short. In the final frame, the Utes shot 6-14 from the field and got to the free throw line a total of eight times.

The Utes also grabbed eight boards in the frame.

Stat of the Game

The Utes finished the game with 22 turnovers and off those, allowed 21 points. That kind of swing is almost destined to lock in a loss for a team. The Utes will have to limit their turnover numbers in the future.

What’s Next?

Utah takes on Arizona State in Tempe on Sunday. The game is scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m. MST, and you can find it on the Pac-12 network.


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