Dec. 10, 2011
PROVO, Utah - Despite a late rally to cut an 11-point deficit to four in the final minute, the Utah women's basketball team fell to Brigham Young, 63-58 on Saturday afternoon in the Marriott Center.
BYU (9-2) held a 30-29 at halftime. With the Utes (4-4) down by two, 38-36 with 14 minutes remaining in the second half, BYU took advantage of a Utah scoring drought to make a an 11-0 run over the next 5:30 to take a 13-point lead, 49-36.
The BYU lead stayed consistent as the clock wound down, with Utah baskets answered by BYU shots at the other end of the floor before the Utes made a rally in the final minute behind several three-point baskets. Down by 11, 60-49 with a minute left, Michelle Plouffe hit back-to-back three's to cut the score to five, 55-60.
With 22 seconds left Utah began fouling, and two Stephanie Rovetti free throws for BYU were answered by a three from Iwalani Rodrigues with 15 seconds left to put the BYU lead at four, 62-58. Another Utah foul with 10 seconds remaining sent Haley Steed to the line. Steed made her first free throw but missed her second, and although Plouffe grabbed the rebound, Utah missed two shots at the other end of the floor as the game ended.
"I thought that was two good teams playing hard against each other," Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. "I think right now they are deeper than we are and I think the key to the game was the first few minutes of the second half where we really, really defended them, but then they got second shots. We didn't finish off plays by getting rebounds. It felt like we were on defense for five of those first six minutes and it zapped our legs and we struggled offensively because we were unable to finish off plays on the defensive end. I think that stretch was a huge key.
"It's easy to play when you're down and it's easy to play with reckless abandon. We got a couple of balls bounced our way and they missed some shots and we made shots at the end."
Plouffe led the Utes with 21 points and nine rebounds. Janita Badon was also in double figure scoring with 10 points and had seven rebounds with five assists.
Utah was buoyed by the three early, with Utah's first four baskets all coming from three-point range. Each team had a series of runs in the first half. Down 14-13 with 12 minutes left in the half, a five-point run behind a three from Cheyenne Wilson and a jumper from Diana Rolniak put the Utes up by six, 19-13.
The Cougars came back with a 15-2 run to go up by seven, 28-21 with six minutes left but the Utes were able to swing the momentum their way going into the half with an 8-2 run to close out the first half with a two-point deficit, 30-29.
Stephanie Vermunt led BYU with 14 points, while Steed had 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Utah's four losses this season have all been by single digits.
Utah takes the week off for finals before returning to the court on Saturday, Dec. 17, against Texas Southern in the Huntsman Center at 3:00 p.m.