SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah women's basketball team dropped its first of four consecutive home games Wednesday night, a 58-55 loss at the hands of future Pac-12 opponent Washington.
With the score tied and just five seconds remaining, Huskies' forward Marjorie Heard rolled off a screen in a broken play to receive a pass and nail the deep 3-pointer to give her team the advantage.
Utah had one final possession, but couldn't advance the ball and a desperation shot by Janita Badon from near midcourt came up short.
"They never ran that play the whole game," Utah freshman Brittany Knighton said of the Huskies' final play. "I was on her, but I didn't see the ball screen come so I was just a second too late. I got a hand up but she shot it."
Heard, a freshman, scored 11 points for Washington, including a perfect 1-for-1 from behind the arc.
"A kid hit a big shot at a big time and a lot of credit to her for stepping up and hitting a shot when they needed it," said Utah interim head coach Anthony Levrets. "Coming out of that timeout, we didn't think they were going to run a 3 for (No.) 40 (Heard), and that's not what they tried to do.
"We guarded them really well, did exactly what we needed to do, and they threw it to 40 and she made a shot. Sometimes that's the way it goes. We didn't lose that game because of anything that happened poorly on that possession."
In a game that was close throughout, with neither team gaining more than a seven-point advantage, 23 Utah turnovers and 13 Washington offensive rebounds proved to be deciding factors. The Huskies scored 20 of their points on possessions from those turnovers and had 15 second-chance points.
In an ice-cold start for Washington, the Utes got off to an early 6-0 lead before the Huskies finally scored their first points — a Kristi Kingma 3-pointer five minutes into the contest — cutting the Utah lead in half. From there, the Pac-10 team found its rhythm, going on a 9-6 mini-run to tie the score at 12-12, and then the Huskies an 8-2 run to take a 20-14 advantage with 5:54 left in the first half.
The Husky takeover was sparked by a stagnant Utah offense and turnovers, as well as by the play of Kingma, who had eight of her 13 points in that span.
Washington gained its largest lead of seven points with 11:24 remaining in the game being a jumper from Sarah Morton, who led all scorers with 20 points. Utah kept the game close, tying the score three times and taking a two-point advantage with 2:25 remaining, but could never regain control.
Levrets noted that much of the Utes' struggles came from still working to fill in the holes left by Taryn Wicijowski, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
"You go through a whole offseason, a whole preseason, 30 practices and three games with everybody being comfortable with their role, and then you lose a player — it doesn't matter who it is — but especially when it's a player who scores that many points and has that many rebounds, everybody has to change their thinking," he said. "We have had one practice since she hasn't been with us. We have people playing positions they've never played, and it looks like it. We don't look like what we need to look like, and it's going to take us a little while."
Knighton, in her first collegiate start, scored 14 points on 66 percent shooting, and freshman Michelle Plouffe led the Utes with 17 points and 10 rebounds.