Utah was once again not able to find the formula to get a win Monday night.
Largely thanks to losing the battle in the paint, the Utes fell 60-47 to the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis. The loss was Utah’s third in a row. After a low-scoring first half that ended in a 24-24 tie, the Beavers took control of the second frame to cruise to victory.
“We have been through a ton of stuff,” said Utah head coach Anthony Levrets. “We are struggling in a lot of areas, but you can only come out and play the best on every possession as best as you can, and if it is not good enough, then it is not good enough. I feel like they gave their best effort tonight.”
Throughout the contest, Utah was outmatched when it came to points in the paint and rebounding. Oregon State scored half of its points shooting from in the paint while the Utes managed just 14 of their 47 from close range. It didn’t help Utah’s cause that it struggled from the field, finishing at just a 36.5 percent clip. The Utes also made just three of their nine 3-point attempts.
As for rebounding, Utah got beat handily in that statistic as well, 41-28. In particular, the Beavers secured 10 offensive boards compared to just five for the Utes, which gave OSU second chances to score.
“That is huge, and that is definitely a game-changer,” said Utah forward Michelle Plouffe of the Beavers’ ability to get offensive rebounds. “That means they get extra possession in there, and that was definitely something we need to take away. I think it would have given us a better chance to win if they did not have those.”
Plouffe finished the night with 17 points, nine rebounds and one assist. Plouffe had some help from junior guard Cheyenne Wilson, who finished with 13 points, a pair of rebounds and three assists. Freshman Emily Potter had eight points and eight rebounds before she fouled out in the closing minutes of the game.
As if the Utes weren’t hampered by enough injuries, things got worse — freshman forward Nakia Arquette sustained a knee injury before the game. That came in addition to guard Ciera Dunbar’s concussion late last week.
“It is huge,” Levrets said. “Though it is not an excuse, it has been a huge piece. Had we not lost [Taryn Wicijowski and Paige Crozon] in the offseason, then the wear and tear does not happen as often, because that is what happens. You do not get that quite as often. But when you lose two players who are key components and then you lose more players as the year goes on, it causes a negative affect, and that is very difficult.”
Levrets found encouragement in the fact that his players did not give up despite a huge deficit in the closing minute Monday. Sophomore guard Danielle Rodriguez forced a jump ball in Utah’s favor which allowed Plouffe to get in one last bucket in the final seconds of the game.
“From the look in our players’ eyes, I knew that we were going to compete,” Levrets said. “I knew before the game, I knew during the game we were going to compete, and I know after the game they were hurt badly by the loss. I know we are going to get ready to compete on Friday night, and that is all I am going to ask out of these kids.”
The Utes will next face Washington State at the Huntsman Center.