Utah led by 14 points with 14:16 remaining in the game.
The University of Utah basketball team is in bad shape right now.
Losing three of four entrants Thursday night, the Utes spat out a 14-point second-half lead against the University of Washington, appearing lost for extended periods of time as they fell, 74-68, to 6,964 at the Huntsman Center.
Utah put five players in double digits, but Gach and David Jenkins Jr., two of the team’s three top scorers, failed to score. Jenkins Jr. played 17 minutes, while Gach only played nine.
“I just thought we were really hesitant and not in attack mode,” Utah head coach Craig Smith said. “We lost or assaulted, and they ended the game scoring on 16 of the last 20 possessions, I believe. We have to be much better at the end of the game. “
That 14-point lead turned into stagnation on the offensive end, and Terrell Brown Jr., the Pac-12’s top scorer, passed it to the other end for Washington after a slow start.
A 3-point Cole Bajema from the left baseline after Utah (8-7, 1-4 Pac-12) fell into an area gave Washington a 62-59 lead with 5:37 left. . After a turnaround from Utah and with the Utes back on defense, Brown Jr. led, drew the defense and kicked the ball to Emmitt Matthews Jr., who knocked down a left wing triple for a six point lead, causing a Smith timeout.
Out of that stoppage, Washington (6-6, 1-1 Pac-12) returned Utah again, ultimately getting another 3 points from Matthews Jr., this one from the left baseline to make 68- 59. In what has become a recent problem, Utah has turned the ball over 19 times. This, after a total of 35 turnovers in the state of Oregon and Oregon last week.
The Utes came down to three, but Matthews Jr. had a pair of free throws with 43 seconds left to score a seemingly unlikely victory.
“I think it’s a lot about focus, our presence and being ready to play,” first year guard Lazar Stefanovic said of the turnover issues after scoring 12 points out of a 5v12 shooting in 30 minutes. “Be ready to play 40 minutes. Not 30, not 35, be ready to play quite a game. We have to take care of the ball, we have to be in the game. This is the most important thing.
At the start of this match, Washington triggered a 2-3 zone in which the wings spread and a defender fell to obstruct the high post. This tactic proved effective for a while, but a wholesale change in Smith’s roster changed the tone of the game.
Among those who registered was 6-foot-10 forward Dusan Mahorcic, who saw his first action since his right knee injury against BYU on November 27. Mahorcic only played five minutes in the first half, but he made them count.
Against the zone, Mahorcic whipped an inside pass to Jaxon Brenchley, who finished at the rim, plus foul, to give Utah a 20-18 lead. Mahorcic knocked down a 6-foot hook along the baseline shortly thereafter and by then the Utes were in control.
A difficult start to filming gave way to Utah, which found clean looks. Second-year first-year guard Gabe Madsen reversed his third 3-point halftime, this one from the right wing, to take the Utes to a 34-28 lead. That advantage grew to seven, but a front row turnaround in the dying seconds resulted in Bajema’s Washington triple at the buzzer, sending the Huskies into the locker room behind, 37-33.