MBB: Utah's second half rally comes up short against Stanford

Ryan Kostecka

It was right there for the taking.

After trailing by as many as many as 12 points in the second half, Utah found itself with the ball, down 63-60 with 2:45 left in the game. With the chance to tie the game, a miscommunication between Rylan Jones and Both Gach resulted in a Utes turnover — and Stanford turned that into a 7-0 run over the next two minutes to close out the game. 

Utah fell 70-62 to Stanford on Wednesday night at Maples Pavilion, remaining winless on the road in Pac-12 play.

“It’s a tale of two halves,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “There’s a lot of frustration with the first. Second half, I told our guys that’s what we need to bottle up, and you need to be ready to go in a fight. You don’t feel anybody out, there’s a sense of desperation. We have to find five guys that are ready to start a game and set a tone for us.”

The first half Krystkowiak speaks of was one of the worst the Utes have played all season long. Subpar shooting, costly turnovers and the inability to communicate on defense found Utah trailing by 18 late in the first half.

But a late rally, aided by better defense and the ability to get out into transition helped the Utes trail 34-22 at the break — a win considering how poorly the Utes played.

Utah's rally in the second half began with the play of Timmy Allen and Both Gach. 

Gach, who's struggled on offense for the past month and a half, suddenly became more aggressive attacking the hoop. His ability to penetrate and score at the room forced Stanford to cover Allen one-on-one, which is always a winning situation for the Utes.

With the both of them doing damage at the rim, that opened up the perimeter for Jaxon Brenchley, who finished with 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.

In the end though, it wasn't enough as turnovers and two wide open three-pointers were missed. 

“There were a lot of things that happened,” Krystkowiak said. “You have to make plays down the stretch.”

Allen finished with a team-high 17 points (8-of-14 shooting), adding seven rebounds and four assists before fouling out in the final minute. Gach finished with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and five rebounds.

Branden Carlson continued his dominance of Stanford, adding 12 points, four rebounds and career-high tying eight blocks. 

The Utes return to action on Saturday when they face Cal. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. MST.