Utah women pull away in 4th quarter to beat Cal, advance to quarterfinals


Utah’s Dru Gylten (10) passes round California’s Leilani McIntosh (1) through the first half of an NCAA school basketball recreation within the first spherical of the Pac-12 ladies’s event Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Las Vegas. (John Locher, Related Press)

Estimated learn time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — At a timeout break through the first spherical of the Pac-12 ladies’s basketball event on the Michelob ULTRA Enviornment in Las Vegas, Utah head coach Lynne Roberts instructed her workforce they’d misplaced the third quarter and wanted to play extra bodily after California took a 1-point lead going into the ultimate quarter.

Her workforce received the message — and none aside from freshman Jenna Johnson down the stretch.

Johnson battled within the publish and had a private 6-0 run to offer the Utes a 62-56 lead with 1:45 left to play in regulation. However California did not make it straightforward in a combat to advance to the second spherical and doubtlessly upset the No. 6-seeded workforce within the event.

California minimize Utah’s result in two with slightly below a minute to play after dialing up the strain because the Utes introduced the ball up the court docket.

Johnson introduced the physicality, however Pac-12 Freshman of the Yr, as voted on by the convention coaches, Gianna Kneepkens settled the rating.

With Utah trying to wear down the clock within the last minute, a Bears double workforce freed up Kneepkens within the nook for an open 3-point look. With a Cal defender shifting on the fly-by block try, Kneepkens did a facet step and drove to the basket with a crossover to free her solution to the rim for a simple left-handed layup and a 4-point lead.

All California might do was foul in hopes of reducing into the deficit.

Utah persevered — even with a pair of late misses from the charity stripe on an evening the place the workforce shot solely 53% from the free-throw line — and earned a 66-60 victory to advance to the second spherical towards the No. 3-seeded Washington State.

Kneepkens, who led the workforce in scoring within the common season, completed with a team-high 20 factors and 5 rebounds, with 16 of her factors coming within the second half for Utah (18-10, 9-7 Pac-12). Johnson completed with 18 factors, three rebounds and three assists in a balanced scoring assault from begin to end from the freshman.

Johnson had a team-high 11 factors on the halftime break and was a key catalyst to the Utes staying forward of the Bears for a lot of the opening half. Utah added to a 6-point halftime lead that was capped off with a Kneepkens 3-pointer to offer the Utes its first double-digit lead of the evening with 7:45 left within the third quarter.

California (11-13, 2-11 Pac-12) answered and went on a fast 4-0 run, after which beat Utah within the high-low recreation with a number of entry passes to the publish for simple layups to make it a single-possession recreation.

And to not be outdone by her freshmen counterparts, California’s Jayda Curry, who was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Yr by the media, hit a floater with seven seconds left within the quarter to offer the Bears a 1-point lead and the momentum going into the ultimate body.

Curry scrapped and scored as she tried to will her workforce to an upset victory, however her effort was not sufficient ultimately — even because the Bears managed just one turnover and held Utah to 1 rebound within the third quarter. Curry, who lead the convention in scoring this season, completed with a team-high 16 factors, seven rebounds and three assists within the loss.

She was joined in double figures by Ugonne Onyiah’s 14 factors and eight rebounds and Evelien Lutje Schipholt’s 11 factors and 4 rebounds. Onyiah, who had 8 of her 14 factors within the second half, was compelled to go away the sport after an obvious knee damage with 3:44 left to play.

Utah will return to motion Thursday (9:30 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Networks) towards Washington State within the quarterfinal spherical of the Pac-12 event. Utah received its solely assembly towards Washington State this season, a 72-66 victory on Feb. 6.

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