There's little question that the Utah women are talented. There's also little question that the Utes are young and talented.
Besides Michelle Plouffe, Utah's a team without much experience. And that made a big impact on the Utes' 75-69 loss to No. 15 Nebraska on Friday night at the Huntsman Center.
After a first half that Utah dominated in stretches, the Cornhuskers opened the second 20 minutes with an 8-0 run. The spurt turned a deficit into a lead, and the Utes could never recover despite 27 points and 12 rebounds from Plouffe.
"I'm proud of their effort," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "But at the end of the day, there's a win or there's a loss. There's no in-between. We have to figure out a way to close these games out."
A win would have done wonders for the Utes' confidence. Nebraska returns four starters from a team that last season advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. So Levrets was happy that his team looked the Huskers in the eye from a talent perspective. Point guard Danielle Rodriguez added 16 points and five assists for Utah.
The Utes mounted a furious rally down the stretch to close a seven-point deficit to 71-69 with 14 seconds remaining.
"We fought hard, and we're going to get there," Levrets said. "But we have to go through games like this in order to learn some lessons. This is going to be good for us and we're going to get better. We're not going to stop improving until our last game of the season."