Women’s basketball: Utes fall to Ducks in pivotal Pac-12 seeding matchup

UUWUWBB7 Emily Juchau

Utah fell to the hands of Jillian Alleyne and the Oregon Ducks on Friday night, 69-58, in what was an important game for conference seeding. Sophomore center Emily Potter tallied 23 for the game as Utah hung tough with Oregon for three quarters, but an anemic offensive second quarter buried Utah in a deficit the team could never climb out of.

Utah came out strong in the first quarter, holding the Ducks to just four points through the opening half of the period. Senior point guard Dani Rodriguez looked to be in attack mode early again, slicing through the lane and driving to the cup. Utah held the lead 18-15 as the final possession of the period unfurled. Freshman guard for the Ducks Maite Cazorla brought the ball to the front court for the final shot, but Rodriguez swiped the ball and took it coast to coast the other way. Alleyne swatted the ball away and fouled Rodriguez, giving her two shots from the charity stripe, but the senior couldn’t convert her free throws, and the Utes went into the second quarter leading 18-15.

After an efficient first quarter in which Utah shot 50 percent from the floor, the Utes couldn’t throw a rock into an ocean in the second. Through the first five minutes of the second quarter the only Utah points came off a pair of Potter jumpers. From then on the Ducks outscored the Utes 13-2 to cap off the quarter, leading Utah 35-24.

An 11-point deficit on the road loomed over Utah’s head, but the Utes battled back, opening the third period on an 8-2 run, making it a two-possession ball game. But a jumper from sophomore guard Lexi Brando and a pair of Alleyne free throws snuffed out the Utah run.

The Utes would take one more crack at the Oregon lead to close the third quarter, scoring on a Potter layup and then a Kuklok three, her only field goal of the game.

The fourth quarter was more of the same for the Utes, who put up a strong effort but were too little, too late. Potter led the final charge with six points on a perfect shooting period from the floor. But in the end, it was all Alleyne, who tallied 27 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, scoring from all over the floor.

Following Friday’s loss to the Ducks, Utah now falls to 6-7 in conference play and are slotted in seventh place in the Pac-12. Coming into Friday’s matchup, both Oregon and Utah were tied at 6-6, each team looking for the chance to secure a foothold in the top half of the conference.

The Utes, one game ahead of eighth-place USC, now faces No. 8-ranked Oregon State, which has lost just one game since conference play began. Tune in Sunday afternoon to follow as the Utes look to steal a game against the Beavers.

w.porter@dailyutahchronicle.com

@westinjay