Utah women’s basketball upsets No. 8 Colorado at the buzzer

Dasia Young provided the shot that lifted Utah to a win.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes guard Matyson Wilke (23) and center Nene Sow (25) hug Utah forward Dasia Young (34) as the Utes celebrate Young's game-winning shot giving the Utah a 77-76 win over the Colorado Buffaloes, in basketball action at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.

Dasia Young received the pass with four seconds left, down one, and bolted toward the basket.

The Utah women’s basketball team was looking at a loss to the No. 8 Colorado Buffaloes straight in the face after leading by as many as 18. And Young had missed game-winners before.

But on this particular hard drive to the rim, Young wasn’t thinking about giving up a lead, or the times she missed a chance at glory.

“I didn’t want to overthink or look for anybody else to do it,” a water-soaked Young said after the game. “I just wanted to put it in my hands. If we lost, it was just going to be on me and I was OK with that.”

Young flipped the ball up toward the rim. After a couple of bounces, it dropped in as the final buzzer sounded. Cue the dogpile celebration.

Young’s shot lifted No. 22 Utah to a 77-76 upset win over the Buffaloes on Friday at the Huntsman Center. It was the first victory over a Top 25 team since beating UCLA in overtime on Jan. 22.

Young scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. She returned to the team after missing some time with an injury, and came off the bench.

Alissa Pili led the Utes with 18 points and six rebounds. Inês Vieira had an all-around performance with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and had to guard Colorado’s lightning-quick guard Jaylyn Sherrod.

“I think it’s really challenging for me because it’s not every day that you go against one of the fastest players in the nation,” Vieira said. “I like challenges. That’s what makes basketball fun.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes guard Matyson Wilke (23) grabs a rebound from Colorado Buffaloes guard Jaylyn Sherrod (0) in basketball action at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.

The Utes had the game under control for the entire first half and then some. The Utes were up 18 early in the third quarter.

But the Buffaloes chipped away like an 1800s miner spending hours upon hours in the hot sun waiting for a speck of gold to appear. They found that speck when Frida Formann’s layup gave them a 74-73 lead with 19 seconds left.

Vieira made two free throws to give Utah the lead back. But Aaronette Vonleh’s offensive rebound and putback put the Buffaloes in control again with 8 seconds left.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah guard Ines Vieira (2) leads a fast break for the Utes, in basketball action at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.

Utah coach Lynne Roberts opted not to take a timeout in the final seconds because they were struggling to execute offensively, she said.

“I wanted to just get it and push and trust your players,” Roberts said. “I have a lot of confidence in these guys. It was just kind of roll the dice and let them make a play.”

Young’s last-second shot went up as she was losing her balance and falling to the ground. She said she saw her layup bounce around out of the corner of eye, and breathed a sigh of relief when it finally went in.

“It was nerve-wracking, but I kind of knew,” Young said. “I went in there with a head full of steam and I didn’t second guess. I didn’t look at anybody else to pass it to or anything. So I kind of knew, like, that’s going in. I made it go in — and it did.”

Entering Friday’s game, Utah was ranked No. 6 in the NCAA NET, the quintessential metric for deciding which teams make it to the NCAA Tournament and in what seeds. Colorado was No. 17. So if Young’s shot missed, the narrative about Utah would be completely different than what it likely will be with the win over Colorado.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes guard Lani White (3) and Utah Utes forward Dasia Young (34) cheer on their team from the Bech, in basketball action at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.

The win, Roberts said, is huge for Utah’s seeding potential, as is the upcoming opportunity to beat No. 9 UCLA and No. 10 USC on the road. UCLA is No. 7 in NET, while UCLA is No. 16.

“I think we have an opportunity to still achieve our goals of hosting the first two rounds,” Roberts said. “That is within our grasp. We’re still [in the] hunt to get a bye in the Pac-12 tournament. We control our own destiny.”