Utah’s Dru Gylten (10) passes round California’s Leilani McIntosh (1) in the course of the first half of an NCAA faculty basketball sport within the first spherical of the Pac-12 girls’s match Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Las Vegas. (John Locher, Related Press)
Estimated learn time: 3-4 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — At a timeout break in the course of the first spherical of the Pac-12 girls’s basketball match on the Michelob ULTRA Enviornment in Las Vegas, Utah head coach Lynne Roberts informed her staff 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 staff bought the message — and none apart from freshman Jenna Johnson down the stretch.
Johnson battled within the submit and had a private 6-0 run to present the Utes a 62-56 lead with 1:45 left to play in regulation. However California did not make it straightforward in a battle to advance to the second spherical and doubtlessly upset the No. 6-seeded staff within the match.
California reduce Utah’s result in two with just below a minute to play after dialing up the stress because the Utes introduced the ball up the courtroom.
Johnson introduced the physicality, however Pac-12 Freshman of the 12 months, 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 staff freed up Kneepkens within the nook for an open 3-point look. With a Cal defender transferring on the fly-by block try, Kneepkens did a facet step and drove to the basket with a crossover to free her approach to the rim for a simple left-handed layup and a 4-point lead.
All California may do was foul in hopes of slicing into the deficit.
Utah persevered — even with a pair of late misses from the charity stripe on an evening the place the staff shot solely 53% from the free-throw line — and earned a 66-60 victory to advance to the second spherical in opposition to the No. 3-seeded Washington State.
Kneepkens, who led the staff 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 present the Utes its first double-digit lead of the night time 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 sport with a number of entry passes to the submit for simple layups to make it a single-possession sport.
And to not be outdone by her freshmen counterparts, California’s Jayda Curry, who was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the 12 months by the media, hit a floater with seven seconds left within the quarter to present the Bears a 1-point lead and the momentum going into the ultimate body.
Curry scrapped and scored as she tried to will her staff to an upset victory, however her effort was not sufficient ultimately — even because the Bears managed just one turnover and held Utah to at least one 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) in opposition to Washington State within the quarterfinal spherical of the Pac-12 match. Utah received its solely assembly in opposition to Washington State this season, a 72-66 victory on Feb. 6.