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Nicole Boliaux, Deseret News
UC Davis Aggies guard/forward Karley Eaton (3) fights for the ball with Utah Utes guard/forward Tilar Clark (24) during the first round of the National Invitational Tournament at the Huntsman Center on University of Utah's Campus in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 17, 2017. The Utes lost 72 to 62 to the Aggies.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah women’s basketball team desperately wanted to end their season with a game that made them proud.

They did not get that ending — or even that game.

Although the Utes enjoyed flashes of the team they could be Friday night at the Huntsman Center, they also looked lethargic and out of sync during much of their 72-62 loss to UC Davis in the first round of the WNIT.

“I think you have to give them a lot of credit,” said Utah head coach Lynne Roberts. “They played really, really well, and they kind of threw the first punch as I like to say. …We just seemed a little discombobulated.”

Utah started slowly with the Aggies taking a 10-0 lead before Tanaeya Boclair scored the Utes' first points at 7:02.

“It’s disappointing to finish your last game, to feel like you didn’t play to your potential,” Roberts said. “And we didn’t. Again, I don’t want to take anything away from UC Davis. I thought they played really well. I think they beat us. …But we certainly didn’t play to our potential either.”

Utah struggled mightily in the first quarter, and while both players and coach weren’t sure why the team started slowly and seemed out of sync, Springville standout Malia Nawahine said she struggled because her defense wasn’t what it needed to be.

“I think that first quarter is what definitely killed us the most,” said Nawahine, who finished with 15 points and five rebounds. “Our defense, it fuels our offense, and so there were times when our defense was not good. So it’s kind of hard to come back when there’s no defense and no offense.”

Nawahine sparked Utah in the third quarter with back-to-back steals that the Utes converted into six points. But while the team seemed to be able to put together a few effective plays, the Utes just couldn’t manage to maintain any rally long enough to take the lead.

“I think it’s kind of the story of our season,” said the team’s only senior Paige Crozon, who finished with eight points and six rebounds. “As we get ourselves in a hole and fight and fight and it takes so much energy to fight back the whole time.”

Roberts said the Aggies were exactly what they prepared for, but once again, they struggled offensively shooting just 34 percent for the game, while UC Davis shot 45 percent.

“They weren’t running anything we weren’t prepared for,” Roberts said. “I mean, that’s what we worked on. But we had 13 more shots than they did in the game. We just didn’t shoot great. And I think that’s more the story of our season.”

The team’s offensive woes also seemed marked by miscommunication and timing issues.

“I just think we have to put four quarters together,” Nawahine said. “These are good teams and you can’t pick and choose when you’re going to go hard and make your shots. …I think it took us too long to get used to game shots and game speed.”

Tanaeya Boclair led the Utes with 19 points and six rebounds, while Emily Potter scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

The Aggies were led by Morgan Bertsch’s 23 points, six blocks and seven rebounds, while Rachel Nagel added 17 points and four rebounds in the win.

“I don’t think this final game is indicative of our season or my career,” Crozon said. “I’m just excited and looking forward to Utah women’s basketball because I think they have a lot of potential. I’ve had a great season and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Roberts joked that she wished Crozon was a sophomore, even as she discussed how adding six new players will make for a much different group next season.

“They don’t come any better than Paige,” Roberts said. “I think the one thing that we all can learn from Paige is that it was always maximum effort and team first.”