The lady Utes are quietly putting together a nice start to their season. One year after a disappointing 9-21 record and the firing of coach Anthony Levrets, the Utes have rebounded with seven wins through just ten games this season. New head coach Lynn Roberts appears to have her team on an upward trajectory, with and undefeated record at the Huntsman Center. On Tuesday night, the Utes took their show on the road, as they knocked off Utah State 64-61 in Logan.
It was a back and forth game from the beginning as Utah and Utah State exchanged leads five times in the first quarter alone. Utah senior Katie Kuklok got off to a hot start sinking a pair of three point shots to score six of the Utes 18 first quarter points. Utah shot 50% in the first quarter and was hot as a team from long range, going 3-4 from behind the arc.
It was more Kuklok to start the second quarter as the senior hit consecutive three pointers to push the Utes to a 24-23 lead. The Utes were able to extend the lead to 26-23 before Utah State went on a 6-0 run to take a 29-26 lead. The Utes and Aggies traded baskets for the remainder of the second quarter with the Aggies taking a 36-34 lead into half time.
Both teams struggled to get the ball through the hoop to start the second half, withs both teams only managing a single point through the first three minutes. Junior guard Paige Crozon and sophomore forward Emily Potter came to life shortly after, leading the Utes on a 6-1 run. The Aggies came back to take a 41-40 lead before Crozon drilled a three to put Utah back in front. Utah State answered with three points of their own to give the Aggies a 44-43 lead heading into the final quarter.
Utah scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to take a comfortable 52-44 lead. But as Utah State did all night, the Aggies responded with a 12-2 run of their own to recapture the lead heading into the final minutes. The Utes fought back to tie the game at 61 with a 1:38 left. The Aggies had a couple opportunities to put the game away in the final minute, but missed three pointers by the Aggies Julianne Anchling and Funda Nakkasoglu gave Utah the ball with 27 ticks left on the clock.
Crozon missed a three point shot with 17 seconds remaining, only to have senior point guard Danielle Rodriguez grab the rebound on the baseline and get fouled while hitting the go ahead jumper with 10 seconds left. Rodriguez made her free throw to give Utah a three point lead and Utah State’s Tijana Djukic missed a last second three pointer, giving the Utes their first true road win of the season.
Crozon led the Utes with 18 points on 6-13 shooting and had 11 rebounds. Kuklok tied her season best scoring effort, with 15 points on 5-8 shooting, all from behind the three point line. The Utes dominated the boards, grabbing 50 rebounds compared to Utah State’s 27. Emily Potter led the Utes with 13 rebounds and Sophomore Malia Nawahine set a career high with eight boards.
The Utes return to the Huntsman Center for a three game home stand beginning with UC Davis on 12/29. Washington and Washington State will kick of Pac-12 play after the new year before the Utes head back out on the road.