Utah women’s basketball team loses another lead, falling to USC

Utes will be the No. 6 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, starting Thursday in Las Vegas.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes center Megan Huff (5) drives the ball as Utah hosts UNLV in women's NCAA basketball at the Huntsman Center, Thursday, March 15, 2018.

The Utah women's basketball team ended the regular season Sunday by inventing another way to lose a game.

The Utes lost a four-point lead in the last nine seconds of regulation and USC took an 83-77 overtime victory at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.

Utah (20-9, 9-9 Pac-12) already was locked into the No. 6 seed in this week’s conference tournament. The effect of Sunday’s defeat is that any reasonable chance of an NCAA Tournament bid appears to be gone. Utah coach Lynne Roberts said last week that her team probably needed three more wins for an at-large bid, and then the Utes lost to UCLA and USC on the road.

The Utes will meet No. 11 seed Washington in a first-round game of the Pac-12 tournament Thursday at 9:30 p.m. MST. The winner will face No. 3 seed Oregon State in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Down to seven active players, the Utes have gone 2-8 in their last 10 conference games. That finishing stretch included a loss at Arizona State, where Utah led by 18 points in the last eight minutes.

At USC, Dru Gylten's two free throws gave Utah a 67-63 lead. Mariya Moore hit a 3-pointer for the Trojans, then Utah's Erika Bean made one free throw and missed the second attempt. In the scramble for the rebound, Bean fouled USC's Desiree Caldwell, who made two free throws to force overtime.

Utah never led in overtime, although forward Megan Huff scored seven of her 30 points in the extra session. Huff missed a 3-pointer that would have given Utah a lead and USC (17-12, 7-11) pulled away from the free-throw line to sweep the two-game season series.

Kiana Moore scored 11 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter for the Utes, although she missed a key free throw in the last minute. Dru Gylten added 12 points. Utah committed 22 turnovers, including 10 in the first quarter.