Utes halt strong Huskies team, nab fourth straight win.
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Even though it was only halftime, Utah senior Iwalani Rodrigues had a pretty good idea the Utes were going to beat Washington on Friday night at the Huntsman Center.
Rodrigues had just buried a half-court shot at the buzzer that gave Utah an eight-point lead.
Just as importantly, she provided the Utes with a boost in confidence and momentum that helped carry them to an eventual 60-46 victory over the Huskies.
"I just threw it up," Rodrigues said. "I didn't think it was going in, but it did and I was like, 'Ohhh.' It was very exciting. I felt like we had already won."
Rodrigues finished with 17 points, and the Utes won their fourth straight game against one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12.
Washington had won nine of its previous 10 games and was on the verge of a national ranking before being shot down by the Utes.
"We played with tremendous energy on both ends of the floor," said coach Anthony Levrets. "Even when we went through some lulls on offense, we continued to defend and rebound."
Washington shot 30.5 percent in the game, including 8 for 32 in the second half. The Huskies tied their second-lowest point total of the season.
"That was as good as we've played defensively in a long time," Levrets said. "… We couldn't be prouder of our team."
The Utes got off to a quick start.
Senior Rachel Messer buried two 3-point shots in the opening 21/2 minutes and the Utes stopped the Huskies on their first five possessions.
Messer's second 3-pointer made it 8-0 and, after Michelle Plouffe scored with 14:18 left in the half, Utah owned a 15-5 lead.
Washington rallied and grabbed a 19-17 lead, but the Utes' Taryn Wicijowski countered with a layup. She ended a five-minute scoreless stretch for Utah, which finished on a 17-7 run.
Rodrigues capped the explosion with her 3-pointer from midcourt to give Utah a 34-26 halftime lead.
"It's a lucky shot, but it's something we work on and have a blast doing," Levrets said. "I think it gave us a ton of momentum going into halftime."
Rodrigues' 3 was the 204th of her career, moving the senior from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, into fourth place on Utah's all-time list.
In the second half, Washington never got closer than six, and when it did, Rodrigues answered with another 3.
"It was exactly how we wanted to play," said Plouffe, who also scored 17 points. "We executed on both ends. It was a great team win."
O Utah's Michelle Plouffe and Iwalani Rodrigues score 17 points each.
• The Utes win their fourth in a row and improve to 15-11 overall and 6-9 in the Pac 12.
Utah 60, Washington 46
WASHINGTON (19-7) • Walton 1-12 0-0 2, Williams 2-6 1-2 6, Kingma 2-9 0-0 5, Wetmore 0-6 0-0 0, Davis 9-16 1-2 22, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Fortier 0-0 0-0 0, Corral 2-7 2-2 7, Gilling 2-3 0-0 4. Totals - 18-59 4-6 46.
UTAH (15-11) • Wicijowski 3-9 1-5 7, Plouffe 6-21 4-4 17, Rodrigues 6-14 2-2 17, Messer 3-4 3-4 11, Rodriguez 1-2 1-2 3, Bridgewater 0-2 0-0 0, Dunbar 0-0 0-0 0, Wilson 2-4 0-0 5. Totals - 21-56 11-17 60.
Halftime - Utah 34-26. 3-point field goals - Washington 6-24 (Walton 0-3, Williams 1-3, Kingma 1-6, Wetmore 0-3, Davis 3-5, Corral 1-4), Utah 7-19 (Plouffe 1-6, Rodrigues 3-7, Messer 2-3, Rodriguez 0-1, Wilson 1-2). Fouled out - None. Rebounds - Washington 33 (Williams 14), Utah 39 (Wicijowski 11). Assists - Washington 7 (Wetmore 2, Kingma 2), Utah 14 (Wicijowski). Total fouls - Washington 14, Utah 11. A - 1,267.