After their first two home losses of the season, the Utah women’s basketball team is looking to bounce back in conference play against Stanford and Cal this weekend. But that might be easier said than done, as Utah has yet to see a victory against Stanford since joining the Pac-12.
“Every team you play is competitive, and every weekend there’s going to be a top team,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “I certainly have so much respect for Stanford and for Tara Vanderveer. She’s a legend and a pioneer for all of us in this sport. The biggest thing with Stanford is that they don’t beat themselves —they don’t make mistakes. You have to beat them.”
Currently, the Cardinal sit third in the conference with a record of 13-3, and they are 3-1 in conference play. Stanford also ranks second in the conference in scoring margin, outscoring their opponents by 21.4 points per game.
At her most recent press conference, Roberts said how losing the last two games has affected her team.
“They all hate to lose, they really do. I love that,” Roberts said. “Last year, they got some success, and this year they’re ticked off. They’re mad not because we lost, but because we didn’t play well. We just have to keep getting better and focus on the things we can control- play a little harder and tougher — and the score takes care of itself.”
Senior wing Paige Crozon seems to agree.
“I just think that we simply had a bad weekend,” Crozon said. “But it’s something that we need to put behind us and keep looking forward instead of letting mistakes compound. When you play Stanford and Cal, it’s definitely an opportunity for growth. It’s something that makes you better. We are excited. Instead of being nervous, we want to face Stanford to prove that we are better than we showed last weekend.”
While Stanford will be a tough test, the Utes may get a small reprieve against Cal. The Golden Bears have a record of 13-3, but they have struggled somewhat in conference play, going 1-3, and they have lost their last three games.
Aside from playing better than last weekend, Roberts said one key to success will be to get junior wing Malia Nawahine going early. Nawahine nearly plays the entire game, and Roberts want to see more of an effort out of her.
“She’s as competitive as anyone I’ve ever coached, but if your going to play that much, you need to produce more,” Roberts said. “In Pac-12 play, she has just four defensive rebounds, and she’s normally a great rebounder. The thing about her is that she’s the toughest kid you’ll find. She’ll make the adjustments. I have so much confidence in her and that’s why it’s hard to take her off the floor.”
The Utes will also need junior forward Emily Potter to step up in order to get a win. During four Pac-12 games, Potter is averaging just 13 points and six and a half rebounds.
Utah will take on Stanford at 6 p.m. on Friday night, and it will face Cal on Sunday at 12 p.m.