It was a storybook ending for senior point guard Dani Rodriguez and the Utes as they finished off the regular season with a road win Saturday afternoon. Rodriguez earned a career-high 28 points in her final regular season game ever, and junior forward Paige Crozon matched Rodriguez with 28 of her own as the Utes defeated the Washington State Cougars, 75-69.
It was a dismal first quarter to start the game for Utah, as the team shot just 27 percent from the floor coming out of the gates. Rodriguez put the team on her shoulders early with 10 first quarter points. However, on the other end of the court, Washington State was locked in and outscored the Utes 22-14 in the opening period.
The second quarter was all Washinton State again, as it outscored Utah 16-12. The Cougars were dialed in defensively and held Utah to 27 percent shooting in the half. Rodriguez continued to keep her team within striking distance, scoring another eight points in the second quarter. Heading into the break, Washington State owned a 12-point lead over the Utes, 38-26.
Utah came out gunning in the second half of play, however, opening the third period on an 18-6 run. Just like that, the home crowd was quiet, and the Utes were back in it with the score tied 44-44.
Rodriguez’s load was shored up in the third period as well, as Canadian import Crozon turned on the jets for a 10-point quarter herself. All in all, the Utes blew the Cougars off their homecourt in the third quarter, outscoring Washington State 27-14 to take a 53-52 lead.
Even as Utah was feeling good about itself to open the final period of play, it wouldn’t be all roses for the Utes. In a single-score ball game, Washington State stepped up, trading blows with Utah back and forth as the game clock ticked. All but two field goals were scored by Crozon and Rodriguez, who combined for 18 of Utah’s 22 fourth quarter points.
With two and a half minutes to play, senior forward Mariah Cooks banked home the layup that gave the Cougars the edge, 67-66. Following Cooks’ layup at the 2:31 mark, Utah ripped off a 9-2 run to close the ball game.
With this victory Utah finishes the season 16-13, 8-10 in conference, its best Pac-12 record since 2012-13. Up next is the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle beginning March 3.