Weekend Recap: Utah Women’s Basketball Takes Down Washington Sides


Jack Gambassi

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


What a difference a year makes. A year ago, the Utah women’s basketball team was at the bottom of the Pac-12 and stumbling to a five-win season. Sunday’s 72-66 win over Washington State, which followed a victory over the University of Washington on Friday, moves the Utes to 13-7 in the year with a 4-4 Pac-12 record.

These numbers put the Utes squarely in the running for an at-large bid for March Madness this year, a stage head coach Lynne Roberts and this University of Utah women’s basketball team have not stepped onto yet.

Friday: Utah 71, Washington 66

University of Utah women’s basketball head coach Lynne Roberts is happy to be home.

“Just feels good to sleep in your own beds,” Roberts said.

The Utes hadn’t played a true home weekend since before the new year, but they were able to come out on top with a 71-66 win over Washington. Utah was never able to get into a rhythm offensively but were able to power through and get the win.

“We looked like we missed Dru a little bit,” Roberts said. “We couldn’t get into a rhythm.”

Dru Gylten, Utah’s starting point guard, is currently day-to-day with a hip flexor. Coach Roberts contributes this as the main reason the Utes were unable to get into a flow Friday night. However, the fact of the matter is the Utes did not need to because of a tremendous defensive effort and a good shooting night. Indeed, the Utes shot 45% from the floor and 25% from three on the night.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was in attendance Friday night.

Leading Scorer

Peyton McFarland led the way in scoring with 17 points.

“I just kept calling her number,” Roberts said in the post-game.

“Oh yeah, I feel great. I have my ups and downs but overall right now I am feeling really good,” McFarland said.

The Utes only turned the ball over 12 times on the night, a number Roberts was not thrilled with despite being one less than the team’s season average.

“That’s been a huge emphasis for us … not turning it over, and rebounding. [It] comes down to how can we score more points and get more opportunities, and opportunities come down to how can we get rebounds and not turn it over,” Roberts said.

First Half

The Utes ended the half with a 36-32 lead over the Huskies. Peyton McFarland and Gianna Kneepkens led the way for the Utes with 11 points each.

Peyton McFarland’s night was extremely impressive. A new level of strength we just simply haven’t seen from the sophomore was on display for most of the first half.

Brynna Maxwell continues to provide a spark off the bench as she provided seven points in the first half.

The Utes did an excellent job with ball security in the first half, only giving up six turnovers. The first half was largely a defensive battle as both teams defended and rebounded extremely well. Washington led by a slight margin of 19-16 in the turnover battle at the half.

No team led by more than five points at any point in the first half.

Second Half

With the game tied and seven minutes left to go, Dasia Young hit an and-one to give the Utes a three-point lead. McFarland followed this by hitting a spinning layup in the key to give the Utes a 65-63 lead.

Maxwell then drove to the hoop to give the Utes a four-point play. After this, McFarland ducked under a double team and put up a layup and-one for a 70-66 lead with a minute left.

After Maxwell missed a mid-range jumper from the right elbow, Washington was given a possession in the Utes’ half with a timeout.

Washington’s Haley Van Dyke missed a three with seven seconds left and Kennady McQueen grabbed the rebound. After being fouled, she knocked down two free throws and put the game away.

Sunday: Utah 72, Washington State 64

Sunday was the “Power in Pink” game for Utah basketball, as the players all sported pink uniforms and shoes in honor of breast cancer awareness.

The Utes’ Sunday win included a dominant run in the third quarter that put the Utes up by 15 at one point in the afternoon. Isabella Palmer hit key free throws down the stretch to fend off a Washington State comeback.

Washington State posted a valiant effort in the fourth to make the game close but couldn’t secure the win down the stretch.

“I’m really proud of our team,” Roberts said. “Washington State is a very, very good team. They returned all five starters from an NCAA tournament team last year, [have] a ton of experience …, [are] really well-coached … so this is a really, really quality win.”

Roberts noted that a little bit of tentativeness allowed Washington State back into the game but was impressed with her team’s ability to finish after a sluggish first half of the fourth quarter.

Kelsey Rees, who scored four points and had 11 rebounds on the day, provided some thoughts on the near comeback and the experience the Utes have going into the fourth quarter with a lead dwindling.

“Just take a deep breath,” Rees said. “We’ve been here before we know what to fix and we know what we can’t do.”

Brynna Maxwell led the team in scoring with 12 points. The Utes also shot 43% from three: a number coach Roberts commended after the game.

“We shot 43% — that’s really good,” Roberts said.

First Half

The Utes entered the half up 38-27 over Washington State.

The Utes shot an impressive 13-31 from the floor in the first half and 5-12 from three. Jenna Johnson led the scoring for the Utes in the first half with eight points but scoring was spread across the board.

The bench in particular had a great half as Maka Jackson had five points and Brynna Maxwell contributed another eight coming off the bench in the first half.

The Utes’ defense possesses a different and more dynamic defensive outlook when Peyton McFarland is on the floor. McFarland finished the first half with only two rebounds but had three very impressive defensive plays that resulted in stops in the first half.

The Utes struggled early giving up four straight points in the transition game but locked things down after an early timeout and played excellent defense throughout the first half.

Second Half

The Utes opened up the second half on a near 10-point run.

Slow shooting and a few untimely turnovers allowed the Cougars to fight back in the second half. Johanna Teder scored 12 points in the second half as Washington State was able to cut down the lead.

However, the Utes hit crucial free throws down the stretch and finished with a 72-64 victory.


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