WBB: Utah gets hot late and downs USC 67-65
On Sunday afternoon, the forecast for Salt Lake City was snow. But inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center, the forecast predicted by the Utes was rain.
Led by a barrage of three-pointers, Utah (8-8, 1-4 Pac-12) picked up its first Pac-12 win of the season by taking down USC 67-65.
"It was exactly how every game we've played against USC in the last two or three years has been. ... It was physical and it was close," said Lynne Roberts, Utah head coach. "It wasn't a perfect game, which I like that we still won, meaning we showed some toughness in the fourth quarter. We came back to win and we showed some grit and toughness."
Utah finished the game 11-for-27 (40.7-percent), as Bryanna Maxwell set tone from the start when she knocked the Utes' first shot down from beyond the arc just six seconds into the game.
Daneesha Provo came off the bench to lead the Utes with 17 points, knocking down 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Kemery Martin added 12 points off the bench, as the Utes' bench combined to score 34 of the team's 67 points.
"I thought Daneesha was the run. She hit two threes and got to the free throw line and defensively she was everywhere," Roberts said. "That is the Daneesha we have been waiting for. That was really positive for us, to see her playing the way that she is capable of playing."
Point guard Dru Gylten finished with eight points, 10 assists and five rebounds, in what may have been her best all-around game of the season.
The game was a back and forth affair, with Utah maintaining a lad for much of the third quarter, and the Trojans taking it back — including leading by five with 4:35 to play.
But that's when the Utes really got hot from behind the arc, going on a 9-2 run after knocking down three-pointers on three consecutive possessions, two of which came from Provo.
Each team exchanged free throws late in the game, and with the Utes leading by two, it was Lola Pendande who got the job done on the defensive side of the ball. Not only did her physical defense force a tough shot by the Trojans, she grabbed the rebound to secure the win.
Utah can now breathe a bit easier after facing three top-10 opponents in its three previous games prior to facing USC. The Utes return to action on Friday when they travel to face Colorado. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. MST.
"It has been a tough stretch with who we have played with how the schedule worked out, so we really needed this one. ... I am proud of our team for finding a way," Roberts said.