Utah Women’s Basketball Drop the Ball Against Stanford in Pac-12 Showdown

The+University+of+Utah+womens+basketball+team+takes+on+the+Idaho+team+at+the+Jon.+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah%2C+on+Nov.+7+2022.

Julia Chuang

The University of Utah women’s basketball team takes on the Idaho team at the Jon. M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Nov. 7 2022. (Photo by Julia Chuang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abbey Thomas, Sports Writer

 

Heading into a California-packed weekend ranked No. 8 in the coach’s poll, the Utes were looking to keep the winning energy from their successful weekend against No. 14 Arizona. With Stanford’s loss against USC on the same day — their only regular season defeat — Utah was hopeful to have a shot at taking down the No. 3 Cardinals.

But the team knew the win wouldn’t be easy. In a media conference ahead of their departure to the Golden State, Utah head coach Lynne Roberts let us in on the Utes’ mindset ahead of the weekend.

“Recently, we haven’t performed well there,” Roberts said. “It’s a tough place to play. They pack it out and they’re confident at home, but we’ve got nothing to lose. We’re capable of beating them but the pressure is on them to beat us.”

And unfortunately, the match proved to be anything but smooth for the Utes. In true Utah fashion, the team started off strong and garnered a solid 8-point lead to kick off the first quarter. However, the Utah defense stumbled slightly to let Stanford squeak by and tie it up at 12. The teams switched on and off throughout the quarter, with Utah settling the first quarter on top at 24-22.

The second quarter began with a tough hit, as the Cardinal blocked Utah from scoring any points for the first five minutes. This scoreless streak was broken by none other than junior Alissa Pili, securing a layup courtesy of Jenna Johnson. The Utes went on another trademark run to add another 8 points to the board, finishing the first half behind at 32-41.

Perhaps refreshed by the break, Utah came back at the half to put some pressure on Stanford, powering through to get within 3 points of the Cards. A couple of solid free throws by sophomore Gianna Kneepkens kept the Utes on their tail at 41-45, shortly followed by a jumper in the paint from junior Issy Palmer. Pili fired off another few free throws to end the third quarter with Stanford on top 55-50.

Starting the fourth and final quarter, Utah began to show some fatigue. The Cardinal fought through the barriers to stay ahead of the Utes consistently by 10 points, in part due to a number of missed shots from the Ute side. In the end, Utah couldn’t seem to find the net quick enough and succumbed to Stanford at a final score of 62-74.

In a conference with Coach Roberts after the game, she conveyed a sense of humility and praised the Stanford offense in their efforts.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Roberts said. “I think our players did a good job competing … But for us, in terms of our offense and what makes us go, if we’re going to shoot 19-percent from three, we’re not going to come in here and win … But credit to Stanford. They’re so good and they’re so deep …”

With a tough, but hard-fought loss behind them, the Utes took an 87-62 win at Cal and now head home to face USC and UCLA. 

 

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