SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – After an encouraging weekend in the desert in Arizona, the Utes basketball team came crashing back down to Earth in their Pac-12 home opener Thursday night.
Utah made just 33 percent of its shots and scored a season-low 53 points in a 69-53 loss to Washington at the Huntsman Center.
The Utes made just 6 of 30 from three-point range.
“I mean we experienced the really good zone, which we didn’t encounter in Arizona, that was all man,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “[UW’s] zone is leading our conference in blocked shots and steals, I thought that it’s a fine line. The first half we had some breakdowns in guarding David Crisp, and then Carter slung in a couple of threes. The three-point line was the difference in the first half, we played pretty connected, but it’s hard.”
Nazieh Carter scored a career-high 18 points and David Crisp added 17 points to lead Washington over Utah 69-53 on Thursday night.
Crisp was 5 of-7 and Carter 3 of 4 from beyond the arc and the Husky defense held the Utes to season low in points.
Jayce Johnson led the Utes with 12 points before leaving the game in the final minutes after getting hit in the face and falling to the court. Donnie Tillman had 10 for the Utes, who missed 24 of their 30 3-point attempts.
Sedrick Barefield, who scored 50 points last weekend at Arizona State and Arizona, scored just 6 points on 2 of 10 shooting.
Both teams were knocked from their normal offensive flows by the defensive pressure at times. The Utes also played man-to-man defense but the Huskies stuck with their trademark zone and extended it to chase the Utes off the 3-point line or force awkward attempts.
The Huskies’ quick hands and length created dozens of deflections, forced 16 turnovers and nine blocked shots. The Utes were determined to pass into the middle of the zone but even when the ball got there, they often couldn’t navigate the gauntlet of collapsing defenders.
“A lot of the guys out here hadn’t seen that before,” Krystkowiak said about Washington’s zone. “When you go to take shots and you have that much length flying at you, it’s easy to see why they lead the conference in blocks and steals. I hope we don’t play against a zone that dialed it. It was no secret what we were going to get. In the practice setting, it’s just really hard to simulate that.”
Washington won its first true road game and has now logged four wins in a row, snapping Utah’s six-game winning streak in the series.
Following his season high of 23 against Washington State last week, Crisp had a no-hesitation release even when closely guarded. Utah led 15-13 before Crisp buried four straight 3s. Since Pac-12 play began, the Huskies have suddenly found their touch from beyond the arc, hitting 41 percent.
Jaylen Nowell and Noah Dickerson, Washington’s leading scorers, had a combined two points at halftime and yet the Huskies led 38-30.
The Huskies made a concerted effort to feed Dickerson on the post and he responded with seven straight points to open the second half and Washington led by 15.
A 3-pointer by Barefield got the Utes back within 47-42, but the Huskies ratcheted up the pressure once again and went on a 12-0 run, capped by Carter’s jumper to make it 59-42.
Utah next hosts Washington State Saturday at 6:00 p.m.