Utah needed a good balance beam score, plus a poor performance on the floor by the Cardinal, to overtake Stanford going into the final rotation.
Even then things didn't go so smoothly for the Utes, who are ranked No. 1 on the floor, averaging 49.204.
Stephanie McAllister was penalized for missing an element that left her with a 9.8 start value, leaving her with just a 9.675 for a made routine.
That low score topped the frustrations for Utah coach Greg Marsden, who was given a yellow card warning minutes earlier when he walked over by the judges following several low scores.
He was still steaming at the scores after the meet.
"Obviously they didn't see things the same way I did, and it's tough for me knowing how hard people work and see them go out there and do a nice job and not be rewarded," he said. "It's frustrating. I need to be cooler than that and let it continue, but at some point you have to stand up for the athletes, too whether I handled it in the appropriate way or not, probably not."
The biggest point of contention for the Utes was McAllister's start value. The judges docked her for not having a leap sequence that started on one foot. However, co-head coach Megan Marsden had documentation she received from judge Linda Fenton last year acknowledging one of McAllister's moves did meet the requirements.
Fenton was serving as the head judge Friday but didn't overrule the judges' decision to penalize McAllister.
"I have the documentation," Megan Marsden said. "But I haven't turned it in or shown it to the judges beforehand because we haven't had any problems with it. I guess I need to do that from now on."
The Utes fell from No. 1 to No. 5 this week after they earned just 196.05 at Michigan a week ago. Friday's score means the Utes likely could drop more, but Greg Marsden said that was the least of his concerns.
"I'm over that," he said. "We shot ourselves in the foot with our road scores and not performing better."
What the Utes are concerned about, outside of the way the judging was handled, were the little mistakes and falls that have dogged them the past three weeks. On Friday, sophomore Corrie Lothrop suffered her first fall of the year and several others had uncharacteristic mistakes.
"Everybody from the athletes, the coaching staff and the fans can all see we're not doing what we are capable of right now," Greg Marsden said. "We had some good events tonight, many of them were very good, but we had some disappointing things, too. It wasn't a complete meet for us."
R IN SHORT • The Utes win the meet but didn't feel like celebrating after falls and judging controversies mar the event.
KEY MOMENT • Stephanie McAllister scores a 9.675 to finish the event for the Utes on floor.
Vault • Kyndal Robarts (Utah) 9.975
Uneven bars • Ashley Morgan (Stanford) and Nicole Pechanec (Stanford) 9.85
Balance beam • Amanda Spinner (Stanford) and Kyndal Robarts (Utah) 9.875
Floor • Ashley Morgan (Stanford) 9.9
All-around • Stephanie McAllister (Utah) 39.0