SALT LAKE CITY — With an upcoming gauntlet that includes No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Stanford and No. 10 Oregon State, Utah’s women’s basketball team could’ve been forgiven for overlooking the Colorado Buffaloes Friday night at the Huntsman Center.
After all, Colorado came into the contest winless in Pac-12 play, 10-6 overall, while the Utes, with just one loss all season, had been nearly the exact opposite through five conference games.
That is not Utah’s way, however — looking past the task at hand — and Friday’s game served as evidence to that.
Utah comfortably defeated Colorado 78-59, completing the regular season series sweep of the Buffaloes.
Megan Huff led the way with 17 points, while Kiana Moore added 15. Andrea Torres and Erika Bean added 13 and 11 points, respectively, in a contest that saw every Utah player who saw the floor get into the scoring column.
Utah shot 48.3 percent from the field, connecting on 29-of-60 field goal attempts. The Utes were particularly effective from three, connecting on 12 of 22 attempts, good for 54.5 shooting percentage.
Making the victory all the more impressive? Utah played without freshman Dre’una Edwards for the second half. The forward dislocated her shoulder a minute into the third quarter, which essentially limited the Utes to just seven available players for the final 20 minutes.
“Obviously we were kind of taken aback, but it’s a next man up kind of thing,” Bean said. “That has been consistent in our season. Someone falls and the next man stands up. I think we did good with that and are hoping for the best with Dre, but whoever is next up is going to do their job.”
Utah started the game slowly, outside of a game-opening 3-pointer by Huff. The Buffaloes were committed to defending the paint and as such the Utes were forced to the outside.
With just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter, and the Utes leading by just two, Huff drilled another three, a result of the Buffaloes' defensive strategy. The triple, along with the play of Moore, sparked a Utah run that broke the game open.
“Kiana Moore was great,” Utah head coach Lynne Roberts said. “She really set the tone for us in the first half and got us going a little bit. Huffy had that look in her eye too.”
The second quarter brought one of the best outside shooting performances of the season for Utah, including 3-pointers by Moore, Sarah Porter (two), and Torres. All told, Utah shot a cool 8-11 from behind the arc in the first half.
“We did shoot it well, and it was really spread around,” said Roberts. “Everybody played a part and we shot a good percentage. It is hard to guard, especially if you have post play like we have with Dre’ and Huffy. If you can shoot the three, you are hard to defend.”
Utah’s torrid outside shooting cooled off a bit in the second half, but with each miss from the perimeter the Utes’ defense seemed to grow more and more stout.
Utah held Colorado to just 11 third-quarter points, 14 in the fourth, and ultimately stretched the lead to more than 20 points, a lead that proved insurmountable.2 comments on this story
“I thought defensively we were pretty dang good,” said Roberts. “They had two players (Alexis Robinson and Quinessa Caylao-Do) that kind of went off — they finished with 24 and 19 points, respectively — but those two took 44 shots. That is a lot. We held everyone else … they only had five people score. I thought defensively we did a nice job.”
With the win, Utah improved to 16-1 on the year, 5-1 in the Pac-12, while Colorado fell to 10-7 (0-6).
Next up, starting on Friday, Jan. 25, are a pair of home games against California (Jan. 25) and No. 6 Stanford (Jan. 27). The Utes will then kick off the month of February with road contests at No. 5 Oregon (Feb. 1) and No. 10 Oregon State.