Utah women’s basketball: Utes’ losing streak continues vs. Bears
Women’s basketball • Plouffe has 19 points, 14 rebounds, but Utah drops third straight.
Published: January 12, 2014 07:42PM
Updated: January 12, 2014 11:00PM
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Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Cal's Justine Hartman yells, looking for help on defense as Utah's Michelle Plouffe drives the lane during first half play. The Utah women trailed California 34-29 at the half, Sunday, January 12, 2014.

Michelle Plouffe hit a milestone Sunday when she went over 1,000 career rebounds.

Unfortunately for Plouffe and the rest of the Utes, she needed a few more boards and buckets to help Utah notch a victory Sunday.

Instead, the Utes fell to No. 19 Cal 68-59 in front of 811 at the Huntsman Center to extend their losing streak to four games. For Cal (12-3, 4-0), Saturday’s game was the 20th Pac-12 win in a row dating back to a January 2013 victory over Stanford.

While never happy with a loss, the Utes (7-8, 0-4) could at least reason away their 87-61 defeat to Stanford on Friday with the knowledge the Cardinal are one of the favorites for the national title.

The Utes believed Sunday’s game against the Bears was a winnable one for them, making the close loss more difficult to take than Friday night’s thumping by Stanford.

“It was disappointing,” Utah coach Anthony Levretts said. “I was proud of the effort, especially after we got down early and we fought back, but we just didn’t have enough to get over the hump.”

Plouffe did her best to help the Utes, finishing with 19 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. The effort gave her 1,005 rebounds for her career, but it wasn’t without a little sacrifice as she knocked her head hard on the court coming down with one rebound.

She remained in the game but was unavailable after the game while she was checked out for precautionary reasons.

Sunday’s effort was another step forward for Plouffe, who missed 21 days after a death in her family, according to Levretts.

“It has been a struggle for her getting her rhythm back,” he said. “When she left, she was playing as well as anybody in the country.”

The Utes had plenty of chances to sneak ahead of the Bears in the second half but never could produce the one big basket they needed as Cal answered every run.

Brittany Boyd scored 24 points and Reshanda Gray added 15 to lead the Bears.

Boyd finished the game shooting 9-for-16 and scored 16 points in the second half, proving to be Utah’s biggest roadblock to an upset.

“We were right there all game,” said Utah guard Ciera Dunbar, who added 12 points and three assists. “We just couldn’t pull ahead.

“This is taking longer than we had hoped,” she said of the Utes’ efforts to find success in the Pac-12. “But we will get there. We are right on the cusp.”

Utah is on the road this week, with games at Washington and Washington State.

“We have to go out and pick up those wins on the road,” Dunbar said.

No. 19 Cal 68, Utah 59

R In short • The Utes remain winless in Pac-12 play with Sunday’s loss to the Bears.

Key stat • Even though Michelle Plouffe grabs 14 boards, Cal still outrebound Utah 43-37.

Key moment • A layup by Ciera Dunbar cuts Cal’s lead to three with 5:14 remaining, but Cal answers with an 11-3 run to put the game away.

No. 19 California 68, Utah 59

CALIFORNIA (12-3)

Jemerigbe 2-8 3-4 8, Boyd 9-16 6-7 24, Gray 7-15 1-1 15, Range 1-3 0-0 2, Hartman 3-8 0-0 6, Jefflo 1-3 2-2 5, Dunn 0-1 0-0 0, Ben Abdelkader 0-1 0-0 0, Brandon 2-7 0-1 4, Lyles 1-3 1-2 4. Totals 26-65 13-17 68.

UTAH (7-8)

Wilson 3-13 0-0 7, Potter 5-12 1-2 11, Plouffe 4-16 10-12 19, Rodriguez 3-6 4-4 10, Dunbar 4-5 2-2 12, M. Nawahine 0-0 0-0 0, Arquette 0-1 0-0 0, Owens 0-2 0-0 0, Reynolds 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-55 17-20 59.

Halftime—California 34-29. 3-Point Goals—California 3-10 (Jefflo 1-2, Jemerigbe 1-3, Lyles 1-3, Gray 0-1, Boyd 0-1), Utah 4-15 (Dunbar 2-3, Plouffe 1-3, Wilson 1-7, Owens 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—California 43 (Boyd, Gray, Jemerigbe 7), Utah 37 (Plouffe 14). Assists—California 11 (Boyd 4), Utah 14 (Plouffe 4). Total Fouls—California 18, Utah 17. A—811.