SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – This has truly become a special season for the Utah women’s basketball team.
Erica Bean scored 23 points, hitting 5 of 8 three-pointers, as the 21st-ranked Utes upset #6 Stanford for the first time ever, 75-68.
Utah’s victory over the Cardinal ties for the highest ranked win in school history after also beating No. 6 Long Beach State in 1984.
“I am so proud of our team because we just continue to chip away,” head coach Lynne Roberts said. “I think this win is so big because of who Stanford is and what they’ve done. I think that Tara VanDerveer is the greatest of all time and I have so much respect for her, her staff and their program. So, that is what makes this win so big, because you are beating the greatest. It is humbling and exciting.”
Bean’s career day was an exclamation point on the end of the game after she scored 11 of her career-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. While all of her points were integral to the win, the dagger came with 1:02 left in the game after Stanford had tied the score 68-68 when she knocked down her fifth three of the game to give Utah a 71-68 advantage.
“I think I missed my first two threes and just having teammates in my ear and coaches just kind of believing in me,” Bean said. “So when the ball touched my hands I was just really confident and let it fly.”
With the combination of outstanding defense in the final minute, huge free throws from Megan Huff and a late bucket from Dru Gylten, the Utes were able to walk away with their 18thwin of the season.
“Our team just continues to just stick with things,” Roberts said. “We started the second half poorly, but they are unflappable. Erika Bean with the breakout three-point shooting night and I was so proud of her confidence to step up and knock those down. It was a great team win, a great program win and these players just continue to play their tails off. They have really bought into this program and it has been a lot of fun.”
Bean’s stat line was on point from top to bottom, hitting a career-high five threes for her 23-point total along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Huff pitched in her 10thdouble-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds, adding four assists, a block and a steal.
Kiana Moore also scored in double-digits for the third straight game with 13 points, also chipping in three assists. The Utes finished the game shooting 43-percent from the floor and 45-percent from the three while holding Stanford to just 38-percent shooting, their second lowest percentage this season.
The Utes jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, but a scoring drought of over three minutes allowed Stanford to get within one. After the Cardinal tied the game with 2:31 remaining in the quarter, Moore came up big late, hitting a corner three-pointer to push the Utes to a 17-12 lead heading into the second quarter.
Utah only shot 31-percent in the second quarter with Stanford taking a one-point lead with 4:04 on the clock, but the Utes stayed in it with Huff tying the score on a strong drive through the paint to tie the game at the 2:35 mark. Leads were traded late in the quarter, but Bean dropped a key three-pointer with 34 seconds left to give Utah a one-point lead heading into halftime.
Stanford opened the third quarter with back-to-back threes and got some offensive momentum to take a seven-point lead with 6:52 on the clock, but the combination of free throws from Gylten and five unanswered points by Bean tied it up 44-44. It sparked an 8-0 run late in the quarter with the Utes taking a 55-50 lead into the fourth on the heels of a fast break bucket from Bean.
The Cardinal went on a 6-0 run to start the fourth, tying the game 59-59 with 7:14 remaining, but once again Bean stepped up to the plate, punching in a huge three to give Utah a 62-59 lead. The battle continued late with Stanford tying the game again with less than two minutes to go in the game, but Bean’s jumper with 1:02 on the clock put the Utes in the lead for good.
Huff was able to knock down two free throws with 18 seconds left and Gylten scored a layup with two seconds on the clock while Stanford was unsuccessful on its final shot attempts, sealing the 75-68 victory for the Utes.
Utah will return to action when they take another top-25 team, Oregon on Friday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m.