November 19, 2019
The University of Utah women’s basketball team (1-3, 0-0 Pac-12) coasted to a comfortable 87-49 victory over the Eastern Washington Eagles (0-3, 0-0 Big Sky) at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Nov. 18. This marked the first victory of the season for Utah.
The Utes got off to a slow start against the Eagles. It was back and forth until the Utes stormed off on a 14-3 run to end the first quarter with a 22-12 lead. The Utes opened the second quarter strong, going on another run — this one 12-3. The Utes continued their dominant performance and finished the half with a 45-26 lead.
Utah would keep their momentum into the second half, outscoring the Eagles 23-9 in the period and extending their lead to 68-35. The Utes closed the game strong and all 11 players scored in the victory.
“We’re a really close team, we’re always happy for each other,” said sophomore forward Niyah Becker. “We want to see each other do well. So, just those little things just show that we are cohesive and as one. We just like to play together.”
Becker led the Utes with her double double, netting a team best and career high in both points and rebounds with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Brynna Maxwell and Ola Makurat joined Becker in double figures with 12 and 10 points respectively. Dru Gylten led the Utes in assists, with 7 to go along with her 6 points and 3 rebounds. Andrea Torres, Kemery Martín and Maxwell all added 5 rebounds apiece.
“I’m really proud of Niyah [Becker], she had a good game,” head coach Lynne Roberts said. “She took good shots, didn’t force anything. She attacked when she should’ve, shot the three when she should’ve. We’re starting to see how talented she is and how good she’s going to be.”
As a team, the Utes dominated a multitude of categories, winning the rebounding battle 47-28. The Utes also limited their turnovers — which have been their Achilles heel all season — only committing 9 while forcing 12.
“We played a lot more cohesive on both sides of the ball,” Roberts said. “Offensively there was definitely progression in our shot selection. People gave up shots to create something for someone else. It shows in our turnovers, we only had 9. It shows in our shooting percentage, we shot 54 percent. That’s why it matters.”
Up Next for the Utes
It will be wheels up for the Utes as they travel to Hawaii later in the week to take part in the Bank of Hawaii tournament in Honolulu. On Friday, Nov. 22, the Utes will take on the Texas Southern Tigers (1-1, 0-0 SWAC). Utah will then square off against the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (3-1, 0-0 C-USA) on Sunday, Nov. 24.
The Texas Southern Tigers are led in large part by senior Ciani Cryor, a 5’5” guard from Philadelphia. Cryor averages 24 points and 6.5 assists per game, which includes a 22 point performance against the No 1. Oregon Ducks. Two other players stand out for the Tigers — senior forward Niya Mitchell and junior point guard Ataiya Bridges. Mitchell averages a double double, with 14.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. Bridges is another big scorer, averaging 11 points per game.
The three account for a whopping 74% of the points scored by the Tigers. The Utes need to slow those players down and live with other players taking more shots. If they are able to do this, Utah should have a really good night.
A noticeable advantage the Utes have is size. Utah regularly rotates in players who are 6’0” or taller, most of the time playing two or three at a time. The Utes should make a living rebounding and getting the ball inside. Lola Pendande provides a mismatch against every team the Utes have played thus far. Look for the 6’4” Spaniard to have another big night for the Utes.
In contrast to Texas Southern, the UTSA Roadrunners are a balanced scoring attack. Three players average double figures for the Roadrunners. Adryana Quezada leads UTSA in scoring, averaging 12.8 points per game. Mikayla Woods adds 11.8 points per game and Charlene Mass averages 11.3 points per game.
The Roadrunners are a good rebounding team, averaging more than 2 rebounds more per game than their opponent. They are also an extremely active defensive team. They force almost 20 turnovers each game, but only turn it over 14 times per game.
For the Utes to win, they will have to take care of the ball. Every game that they have lost this season, they have had at least 18 turnovers. If Utah builds from their performance against Eastern Washington and take care of the ball better than they have in previous games, they will be successful.
The other important thing for the Utes will be to rebound. They won the rebounding battle for the first time this season against Eastern Washington. This success lead directly to a win for the Utes. They didn’t give up second chance points that had plagued them against Xavier. If they win the rebounding battle, the Utes will put themselves in a good position to win over the weekend.
Both games at the Bank of Hawaii tournament will tip off at 3 p.m.