LOS ANGELES — The No. 2 ranked Utah gymnastics team stumbled mightily in its season opener, falling to No. 5 UCLA 196.600-195.125 before a crowd of 5,128 in Pauley Pavilion. Not since 2003 had the Utes lost a season-opener, when they fell to the Bruins in Salt Lake City.
Saturday's loss snapped a 10-meet Red Rocks win streak against UCLA — a streak that included a tie-breaker victory over the Bruins in the preliminary round of last April's NCAA Championships.
This time around was not nearly so close.
"UCLA looked awfully good," said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden. "They are typically a slow-starting team, but today we looked like UCLA usually does (in the early season). I take my hat off to UCLA. They were a much better team tonight and they are definitely a team on a mission. This was a disappointing start for us and hopefully it is a wakeup call."
Marsden shouldered the blame for the lowest score by a Utah team since the 2006 season opener (ironically a 194.875-193.850 Ute win over UCLA in Los Angeles). "We made mental mistakes and didn't look sharp right from the start. We did not look well-prepared, and ultimately, I am responsible for that."
Two Utes who fared well were junior Kyndal Robarts and senior Annie DiLuzio. Robarts, competing in the all-around for the first time of her career, placed third with a 39.150.
She was Utah's high scorer on vault (9.85) and beam (9.85) — placing third on both of those as well. DiLuzio hit her three events cleanly and recorded Utah's highest score of the night — a 9.875 on floor.
While the Utes did not count a fall, they had one on every event. In the opening rotation on the uneven bars, Stephanie McAllister dropped to one knee on her dismount, causing the Utes to ultimately count a 9.675 from Cortni Beers. Jamie Deetscreek and Daria Bijak finished strong with 9.85s, but Utah fell behind by nearly a half a point (49.275-48.850). As it turned out, it was as close as the Utes would get.