SALT LAKE CITY — The senior leadership on the Utah team is scarce but mighty, and it was the two seniors, Kiana Moore and Daneesha Provo, who came up big in the Utes' gut-it-out victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack.
“I thought these two (Moore and Provo) did a nice job in the fourth quarter,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “They came in and just set the tone defensively and showed their poise and experience.”
Moore finished the game with 11 points and three assists, and Provo in her first game back since knee surgery had four points and three very timely steals in the 68-62 victory.
It was a back-and-forth battle between the two teams during the first two quarters. For every shot each team took, the other team had an answer for. Niyah Becker hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with a little under two minutes left in the second quarter and made one free throw to give the Utes and 34-33 lead heading into the half.
After half the Wolf Pack came out ready to give Utah everything they had, Utah went on a five-minute scoring drought, and in that time Nevada was able to build up a seven-point lead over the Utes.
“I think we need to give Nevada some credit,” Roberts said. “They came in here and competed, shot the ball well. They were fearless, which we knew they would be. They played really hard, so let’s not take away anything they did.”
Toward the end of the third quarter, Utah began to find its rhythm again. A steal by Lola Pendande led to an Andrea Torres three to put the Utes down by two heading into the fourth quarter.
With 7:19 left in the fourth quarter, Moore hit a huge two-point shot that would bring the Utes within one of the Wolf Pack and her energy sparked the team.
“She was tired in that fourth quarter,” Roberts said. “But I couldn’t take her out because she brought that toughness and fearlessness, she matched it and it was like we’re gonna be fine, which we needed.”
Pendande, who finished the afternoon with a team-high 12 points, blocked a shot and was then T'd up for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“Lola is a really passionate player,” Moore said. "I like playing with Lola, she brings that life and energy to all of us so when she goes out of the game it’s like OK, we’re OK, we gotta keep our heads on straight and finish the game.”
Brynna Maxwell and Moore hit back-to-back threes to build the Utes lead to four midway through the fourth quarter. Down the stretch of the final minutes of the fourth quarter Julia Brosseau had six points to help close out the Utes sixth straight victory. Brosseau finished the game with 11 points and tied her season-high five assists.
Utah will be at home again on Monday night when they take on the Providence Friars on Monday at 7 p.m.