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Having a depleted lineup already at the center position, the last thing the Utah Utes needed on Sunday was to have their two remaining posts get into foul trouble.
Or so it seemed.
But, in a Pac-12 women's basketball contest that the Utes desperately needed to somewhat salvage a four-game homestand, it was defense and energetic play up-and-down the bench that enabled Utah to take a 63-57 victory over No. 24 California.
And it was backup center Wendy Anae, a 6-foot-3 junior, who typified that effort at the Huntsman Center.
Starting post player Emily Potter ended up with 15 points to co-lead the Utes with guard Malia Nawahine, but Anae was called into the game early and stayed in when Potter got into foul trouble.
Anae, like Potter, ended up with four fouls, but she had two crucial baskets in a 9-2 run early in the final period a spurt Utah (13-4, 2-4) would badly need as California (14-4, 2-4) would later come within a point with its own 11-0 streak.
"I just came out, knew the gameplan, and was ready to play," said Anae, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
Until the recent injury of Utah second-string center Joeseta Fatuesi, Anae made fleeting appearances during games.
"Every game, Wendy has been getting more and more confident and we knew she could play like this all along," said Utes' senior Paige Crozon, who added 10 points. "She's really come in and done her role, made all the hustle plays and worked really hard.
"Now she's getting the payoff on the offensive end, because she's the hardest-working player on the court," Crozon added.
In a game of runs, Utah actually never trailed. Coming into the contest on a three-game home losing streak, the Utes jumped to an 11-1 lead and then protected that margin against periodic surges by the Bears the rest of the way.
Led by Kristine Anigwe's 22 points, California twice clipped the margin to one.
Once was early in the third quarter with an 8-0 run that made the score 39-38. That ended when Crozon popped a trey from the top-of-the-key to kick off 10 straight points by Utah.
The last threat by the visitors came in the last four minutes. After a bucket by Nawahine put the Utes up 58-46, Cal then scored 11 straight points and was down by a point when Courtney Range connected with 1:45 left.
In the midst of that run, Utah guard Erika Bean missed a pair of free throws. But Bean made up for it by being the cause of two Bears' turnovers in the last minute of play.
"Do we call that redeeming ourselves?," Utah coach Lynne Roberts said. "That is kind of the 'next-play mentality' that we talk about. If you mess up, next play you make up for it.
"Before the game, I was looking forward to seeing what our mentality was going to be," Roberts added. "If we were ready to get back and compete. And the players really showed up."
R Utah led from start-to-finish to salvage the last game of a four-game homestand that started with three conference losses.
• California's last comeback of the day was an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter, but two turnovers caused by Utah guard Erika Bean in the last minute helped the Utes stave off the Bears.
• Utah's Emily Potter and Malia Nawahine each scored 15 points while Cal center Kristine Anigwe led all players with 22.