Right now few things seem to be going right for Utah’s women’s basketball team.
Even when they broke out of their six-game losing streak by beating Washington 88-56 Friday in front of 3,743 at the Huntsman Center, the Utes (19-7, 8-7 Pac-12) still suffered a major setback.
Utah freshman Dre’Una Edwards injured her knee late in the first quarter when the Utes were up 22-16. The forward from Las Vegas hadseven double doubles and was averaging 12 points and seven rebounds prior to Friday’s game.
Megan Huff led the Utes with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Kiana Moore added 17 points and four rebounds. Washington (8-18, 1-13) was led by Amber Melgoza with 21 points.
Utah coach Lynne Roberts said things “didn’t look good,” for Edwards, who was going to have her knee examined more Friday night. Roberts lost two players to season-ending knee injuries in Maurane Corbin and Daneesha Provo, and she indicated she thought Edwards might have the same diagnosis.
“What can you say, it’s part of sports,” she said. “But you didn’t see any flinching from our team or second-guessing themselves. In a word, this team is resilient and it is rewarding to coach that kind of team.”
The injuries leave the Utes with just seven healthy players and only three regular season games to make any necessary adjustments before the Pac-12 tournament.
“We have no choice to adjust,” Roberts said. “What it means is Niyah Becker is going to get a lot more minutes and she has to take them and run with them, and we have to be pretty smart as coaches how we game plan.”
Huff echoed her coach’s thoughts.
“We have continued to handle adversity,” she said. “It’s the next person up and we will play for our teammates.”
True to their word, the Utes didn’t come apart after losing Edwards.
Instead they used some strong 3-point shooting to get the much-needed win.
The key run came in the second quarter when the Utes led just 25-22. Becker got the run started with a three-pointer and Sarah Porter made two 3’s as the Utes expanded their advantage to 38-22.
Washington went almost six minutes without a basket in the quarter. By the time Darcy Rees made a layup with 3:05 to go for the Huskies, the Utes had built a 40-25 lead.
Porter finished with 12 points, going 4 of 7 from 3-point distance.
“We have kids who can shoot the three and we told them to expect the ball and make the play and they did,” Roberts said. “Forty-one percent, that is a great percentage from the three.”
Rather than focusing on the loss of Edwards, the Utes tried to focus on the importance of ending the losing streak.
The Utes have struggled to regain the touch that saw them open the season 18-1, including the 75-68 upset over then sixth-ranked Stanford. Utah hopes Friday’s result can get them going in the right direction even with the injury.
“I am super proud of our team,” Roberts said. “It was a convincing win and a controlling win. It’s nice to get the monkey off the back a little bit. They haven’t been feeling sorry for themselves and that speaks to who they are.”