Utah swept the season series against Washington on Wednesday night by beating the Huskies 90-82 in the Huntsman Center, snapping a two-game losing skid.
The game was close all night, and every time Utah went on a run, Washington responded with its own. It wasn’t until the closing seconds that the Utes secured a win. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak believes his team really stepped it up in the second half to get the win.
“We knew Washington was really good — they’ve been really competitive against a lot of teams,” Krystkowiak said. “I thought it was a great overall effort.”
Utah finished the night shooting 67.3 percent from the floor and 58.8 from beyond the arc. The Utes had five players score in double digits, and Jakob Poeltl led the way with 23 points and six rebounds.
“It’s great when we have a balanced offense,” Poeltl said. “No matter who you get the ball to, we’re all confident.”
Lorenzo Bonam finished with 18 points, and Jordan Loveridge had 16, all but one of which came from the three-point line. Brandon Taylor had 15 points and six assists, while Chris Reyes added 10 off the bench.
Even Kyle Kuzma, who finished with just eight points, did his part and dished out seven assists.
Loveridge nailed two early three-pointers to get things going in the first half, and the Utes held an early 8-3 lead. Following a basket from each team, the Huskies went on a 9-0 run to lead 14-10. But Taylor then drained a three to bring the Utes within one.
The Utes took back the lead when Bonam made his way into the paint on back-to-back possessions, getting fouled on the second to put the Utes up by four. However, Utah wasn’t doing a good job of taking care of the ball. It turned the ball over eight times before the nine-minute mark of the first half, and Washington gained 15 points off of those turnovers.
Loveridge made his third three-pointer of the night to give the Utes a five-point lead, but Washington responded with one of its own. Poeltl did not get on the board until later in the first half, but he scored a quick six points to give the Utes a 34-30 lead.
The Utes committed another turnover, and Washington took a one-point lead on its following possession.
From then on, the lead continued to switch between the two teams. Loveridge got his fourth three-pointer to drop, but Washington responded again as Andrew Andrews hit his own three. Andrews finished with 22 for Washington.
Bonam closed out the half with a dunk in the final seconds, and the Utes went into the locker room with a 43-40 lead. They ended the half with 12 turnovers, which led to 19 points for Washington.
“We made a number of mistakes in the first half and weren’t dealing with their pressure very well,” Krystkowiak said. “There were some mindless ones, and some were self-inflicted. You can’t be as wired up as we were in the first half.”
Poeltl started the second half much like he ended the first, using his size advantage to get a couple of quick baskets. Chris Reyes soon caught the hot hand and scored three baskets, and after a three-pointer from Taylor, the Utes led 60-56.
Bonam soon got going after he made a pair of free throws and a three-pointer to get the lead back up to six. Washington scored on its next possession, but Taylor drained his fourth three of the night immediately after to give the Utes a 72-65 lead.
After a timeout, the Utes came up with a steal, and this led to a three-pointer for Loveridge. As Washington was inbounding the ball, Bonam hung around and snuck up on the Huskies, stole the ball and made a layup. After a free throw and fast break layup from Taylor, the Utes had their largest lead of the night, 80-67.
However, they couldn’t put the Huskies away, and Washington cut Utah’s lead to six points with 4:29 left. The Huskies were not ready to concede, and a few more quick dunks make it a five-point game with under two minutes to play.
With one minute left to go, Utah lead 87-82, and after a missed three pointer, Poeltl got an offensive rebound and soon finished off the possession with a dunk to extend the lead to seven. The Utes made one more free throw to bring their total to 90 points.
Krystkowiak thinks the Utes cleaned up their play in the second half and that this was a big reason they came out on top.
“Five turnovers in the second half was key, and we made enough plays down the stretch,” Krystkowiak said.
Next up, Utah plays Washington State this Sunday at 3 p.m. MST