Utah couldn't hold onto the basketball in the first half and couldn't stop Northwestern from scoring in the second half.
That was the wrong combination for the Utes in a consolation game Sunday afternoon as they concluded the Wooden Legacy with a 79-57 loss to the Wildcats at Fullerton, Calif.
Utah (3-3) committed 13 turnovers in the first half and 21 for the game, many of them due to sloppy passing. That statistic ruined an acceptable shooting day for the Utes, who were led by senior guard Sedrick Barefield with 15 points and freshman forward Timmy Allen with nine.
Some of Utah's usual scoring sources were lacking. Donnie Tillman had totaled 30 points in the team's first two games of the tournament, but his only field goal Sunday came with two minutes left as he posted six points. Parker Van Dyke missed the only shot he took.
And the Ute defense fell apart in the second half, when Northwestern shot 63 percent from the field and outscored Utah 51-33. Guard Vic Law led the Wildcats with 19 points.
“We've got some things to improve defensively,” Ute assistant coach DeMarlo Slocum told the Utes Radio Network.
Utah guard Vante Hendrix missed the last two games of the tournament for personal reasons, the school said.
The Utes lost to Hawaii, beat Grand Canyon and lost to Northwestern in the event on the Cal State Fullerton campus, gaining far less from the tournament experience than coach Larry Krystkowiak had hoped, both in terms of improvement and potential NCAA Tournament credentials.
Northwestern (5-1) had turnover troubles of its own early in the game, but the Wildcats' offense got going in the second half. The Wildcats made 9 of 11 field goals in one stretch of the half and 5 of 5 in another sequence. Northwestern built a 51-37 lead with 12 minutes remaining; the closest the Utes got after that was within nine points.
The Utes trailed 28-24 at halftime, having committed 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game and 13 in the half.
That seemed like a reasonable deficit, considering how the Utes were causing most of their own problems, but the Wildcats asserted themselves in the second half. The game was similar to the Utes' showing against another Big Ten team, a 78-69 loss at Minnesota two weeks ago. This time, though, Utah was overwhelmed after making a mild run midway through the second half.
Utah is halfway through its nonconference schedule. The Utes' six December games are distributed over 29 days, beginning Saturday vs. Tulsa at the Huntsman Center. Utah will play strictly on Saturdays for the next three weeks, meeting BYU on Dec, 8 at Vivint Smart Home Arena and visiting Kentucky on Dec. 15.