A moral victory is not what Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts was looking for Friday night, and one she would not accept after an 81-74 loss to UCLA at the Huntsman Center.
“I think we’re past that as a program,” she said. “I really do. I think we’re at the stage where we were this close with ASU, we were this close with UCLA, which tells me that we’re good enough to hang, right, so we need to start winning them.”
Led by Megan Huff’s 17 points and 16 points from Daneesha Provo, the Utes never trailed by more than nine points but could not overtake the Bruins in the fourth quarter.
UCLA led by four points with 37 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and hit free throws the rest of the way after Provo fouled out.
The Utes entered the night with as the highest-scoring team in Pac-12 play (81.3 points per game).
“UCLA is really, really, good defensively, “Roberts said. “It’s hard to even explain how just long and athletic and aggressive they are, and to handle that for 40 minutes and still score 74 points — I mean, that’s pretty good.”
UCLA’s winning streak against Utah was extended to 11 games, including all 10 games since the Utes joined the Pac-12.
After trading the lead twice, UCLA ended the first quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 25-20 lead. Provo hit a 3-pointer to open the second quarter and cut the Bruins’ lead to two points, and a layup by Huff later cut the lead to 28-27, but the Bruins responded every time — led by Jordin Canada and Michaela Onyenwere, who scored 20 points, UCLA led 42-38 at halftime.
In the second half, Provo took things into her own hands. She scored seven straight points, grabbing a steal and scoring a layup, then hitting a 3, then sinking two free throws, to knot the score at 47 with six minutes left in the third period. Three minutes later, Tilar Clark’s layup gave the Utes their first lead since the first quarter at 53-51.
“I think we’re just really calm and collected,” Huff said. “Throughout the whole thing everyone’s always encouraging each other… ‘Next, play, next paly, OK we got the next one.’ I think that’s the biggest thing is answering back.”
The Bruins went on a 5-0 run to regain control, and led 56-54 going into the fourth quarter. Utah started the final quarter with a 3-pointer by Tori Williams for a one-point lead before another UCLA run, this one a 7-0 spurt, gave the Bruins the lead the remainder of the game.