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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Utah defeats Arizona women’s basketball 60-55

Zi Yang Lai

Arizona guard Farrin Bell (20) leaps for the rebound playing against Utah in McKale Stadium on Friday, Jan. 15. The Wildcats were defeated 60-55.

Behind double-doubles from Emily Potter and Paige Crozon, Utah defeated the Arizona women’s basketball team 60-55 in McKale Center Friday night.

The loss drops the Wildcats to 10-7 overall and 1-4 in the conference.

“I want to give Utah credit for coming in here and doing what they needed to do to win,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said. “We would’ve liked to end that one a little better, but I’m proud of the way our group fought there in the end.”

The two teams traded baskets for the first five minutes or so, but then the Utes increased the lead to 17-9, thanks to seven unanswered points by Crozon.

Utah would then extend the lead to 23-9, its largest lead of the game, after a three by Malia Nawahine capped off a 10-0 run. The Utes would lead by 10 after the first quarter.

“Out of the gate, we weren’t the way we needed to be,” Butts said of the team’s slow start. “We just got to get into a better start and we have to be able to stop the bleeding a little bit.”

Utah’s size advantage in the paint led to the Utes grabbing five offensive rebounds and accumulating 12-0 points in the paint edge in the first quarter alone.

In the second quarter, the Wildcats came out with much more energy on the defensive end, and consecutive jumpers by Lauren Evans and Keyahndra Cannon got the Wildcats within six with 2:02 left in the half.

It looked as if the second quarter push was going to be halted after a four-point play by Katie Kulok gave Utah a 37-27 advantage, but Malena Washington countered with a three-point play of her own to make it 37-30.

Washington finished with 15 points on the night.

Utah then held for the final shot of the quarter, but, despite getting a wide open corner three, the shot was off the mark and Michal Miller was able to collect the rebound and immediately draw a foul. She’d hit one of the two free throws, and the Wildcats would find themselves down by just six heading into halftime. Considering the team’s poor start, it could’ve been much worse.

Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively In the third quarter, but a three by Washington would cut the Utes’ lead to 46-41 with 4:03 left.

The teams would then fail to score for the next three minutes, but finally a Crozon free throw and a jumper by Cannon right before the buzzer would make it a 49-43 Utah lead with the final quarter of play remaining.

A three by Utah’s Danielle Rodriguez after an Arizona turnover to start the quarter would make it a nine-point game.

A LaBrittney Jones layup cut the Wildcats’ deficit to seven with 3:43 left, but Potter would score back-to-back buckets to push the Utes’ lead up to 11.

“LaBrittney did everything she could to will us to win. I know she wishes she had that layup back to put us within one, but it’s hard to ask for much more,“ Butts said.

It seemed the game was out of hand, but the Wildcats continued to fight and Jones caught fire. She would drain two threes to make it a 58-55 game with 1:05 left. She scored 10 points in the final five minutes and 19 in total.

“I felt like everything was going right out there,” Jones said. “My teammates were giving me the ball, and I was just taking my time and trying to make shots for us to come back in the game.

Jones had a golden chance to cut the deficit even further after a steal on an inbounds pass gave her a reasonable look near the basket, but the layup rimmed out.

“That was tough for me. That was a heartbreaker,” Jones said. “I thought I was going to make that one. I should have just taken a regular left handed layup, but I just went down the middle and get a quick bucket and it wasn’t too good.”

Arizona would then get a stop to give itself another opportunity and Miller, looking to tie things up, came off a screen and fired a three, but that shot went in-and-out.

“We gave ourselves every opportunity to tie the game, and even go ahead, but we came up empty there. We didn’t get good enough plays heading to the basket,” Butts said.

The Wildcats were then forced to foul and Kuklok knocked down both free throws to put the game away. The Utes got the line 24 times while the Wildcats were able to do so just 10 times and Butts felt that was the difference in the game.

“We made four more shots than they made, tied them in threes, but they were 18-24 from the line and we we’re 5-10,” Butts said. “We have to get to the foul line. When you only shoot 10 free throws the entire game and we only make half of them, that’s not enough to offset poor shooting.”

Arizona ended up outscoring the Utes in 43 to 37 in the final three quarters, but it wasn’t enough to dig them out of the hole that was created in the first quarter.

“The first quarter was the beginning of the end for us,” Butts said. “We fought back and obviously we fought back, but the first quarter really put us too far behind and when you look at the stat sheet, we ended up winning or tying the next three quarters.”

The Wildcats return to action on Sunday to take on the Colorado Buffaloes.

Tipoff for the game against Colorado is Sunday at 2 p.m. in McKale Center.

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