SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The University of Utah men’s basketball team looked like it was cruising to a victory over Washington Thursday night at the Huntsman Center.
After Rollie Worster hit a 3-pointer with just over 14 minutes left, the Utes had a 50-36 lead. But they couldn’t hold it.
The Huskies outscored Utah 38-18 the rest of the way and handed the Utes their fourth loss in five games, 74-68.
“I just thought we got really tentative and not in attack mode,” Utah head coach Craig Smith said. “We lost or aggression, and they ended the game scoring on 16 of the last 20 possessions, I believe. We have to be a lot better closing out games.”
Daejon Davis led Washington with 16 points, while Terrell Brown Jr. and Cole Bajema each added 15 points.
Five Utah players scored in double figures, led by Lazar Stefanovic, Brandon Carlson and Gabe Madsen, who all had 12 points.
Marco Anthony added 10 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Rollie Worster also scored 10 points.
Utah out-rebounded the Huskies, 44-26, but committed 19 turnovers compared to just six for Washington.
“I think it’s a lot about focus, and our presence, and being ready to play,” Stefanovic said. “Being ready to play 40 minutes. Not 30, not 35, being ready to play a whole game. We have to take care of the ball, we have to be in the game. That’s the biggest thing.”
Washington, which set season highs in steals (18) and opponent turnovers (21) in a 16-point loss to then-No. 9 Arizona in its conference opener, had 13 steals and forced 19 turnovers for 22 points against the Utes.
The Huskies trailed by 14 points early in the second half but pulled away on a 29-9 run, capped by three straight 3-pointers from Bajema and Emmitt Matthews Jr. for a 68-59 lead with about four minutes to play.
Utah cut the deficit to 68-65 with 1:14 remaining but didn’t get closer as the Huskies made six free throws in the final minute.
Utah will look to end a three-game skid when it hosts Washington State on Saturday.