Women’s Basketball: Keeping up in the Pac-12

BYU Vs. Utah-2 Kim Brenneisen

The Utah women’s basketball team had what head coach Lynne Roberts characterized as a good weekend, as the team split a pair of home games between ranked teams Stanford and Cal. While the Utes came away with a loss against the Cardinal, Roberts said her team’s effort was much better.

“By good, I mean it wasn’t just about the games we played,” Roberts said. “We had a good week of practice. Sometimes when you don’t play well, you have to evaluate and challenge yourself as a player and as a team. We had a good week and I’m proud of our team for how they responded.”

The Utes struggled on offense against Stanford, shooting just 34 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep. The Cardinal shot 43 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep as Stanford went on to win its 14th game of the season.

While the Utes remained close throughout the first half, cutting Stanford’s lead to just six points in the third, it was a tough fourth quarter that put the visiting team over the top.

“I thought our effort was better,” Roberts said. “We did a lot of things better, but the start of that fourth quarter crushed us defensively. I am proud of our team for bouncing back.”

Emily Potter led the way for the home team with 15 points and six rebounds, as well as adding six blocked shots — tying her career high. Senior wing Paige Crozon poured in 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Against Cal, the Utes started fast and kept the pressure on, going up by 12 at one point. While the Golden Bears made a couple of runs, it wasn’t enough as the Utes snapped their three game losing streak and they picked up their second conference victory.

Cal — one of the top scoring teams in the nation — was held to just 57 points on 35 percent shooting.

“I thought we played much more to our character in both games even though we didn’t beat Stanford,” Roberts said. “Our rebounding was noticeably better, we were just tougher and our guards were rebounding. Defensively, we were a lot better, and everyone was on the same page.”

Roberts also mentioned that though the team was excited about the win against a ranked opponent, they weren’t going to overlook the teams on their schedule. Both Oregon State and Oregon beat the Utes last year and Roberts said those memories are fresh in her team’s mind.

“It’s definitely something that helps us build confidence,” said sophomore guard Erika Bean referring to her team’s win against Cal on Sunday. “It’s momentum that helps carry us forward and get us ready for the next conference game.”

Bean also said that the team has the same mindset heading into this weekend that they had competing against Stanford and Cal.

“We just have to keep getting better and work on us [as a team],” Bean said. “We all have those individual things that we need to work on and if we keep working on them we will get better.”

Oregon State sits atop the conference at 5-1.  Roberts mentioned what her team needs to do to win this weekend.

“You have to play a nearly perfect game,” Roberts said. “We need to be really on point on both sides of the ball. We can’t beat ourselves.”

The Utes will travel to Corvallis to take on Oregon State on Friday, and then face Oregon on Sunday.