SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s hot shooting in Arizona last week didn’t make the trip home. The Utes missed and missed often in a 69-53 loss to Washington Thursday night in the Huntsman Center. They were 20 of 60 from the field and a paltry 6 of 30 from beyond the arc.
“We experienced a really good zone (defense), which we didn’t encounter at the Arizonas. It was all man,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “That zone is leading our conference in blocked shots. It’s leading our conference in steals.’
The Utes had nine shots deflected and gave up nine steals in falling to 7-8 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play. The Huskies improved to 11-4 and 2-0.
“I just thought we put too much pressure on ourselves,” said Krystkowiak, who noted the deficits his squad fell into. “So I give them credit.”
Washington led 38-30 at halftime. The Huskies did so despite shooting just 37.8 percent from the field. Sophomore Jaylen Nowell, who came in averaging 17.3 points per game, really struggled. He made just one shot and missed seven.
“I just thought we put too much pressure on ourselves.”
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak
Even so, Washington found other ways to succeed. The Huskies made seven 3-pointers and blocked seven shots by the Utes.
David Crisp had a game-high 14 points in the first half, while teammate Nahziah Carter had 11.
Utah’s top scorer early on was Donnie Tillman. He came off the bench to score eight points. No other Ute had more than three over the first 20 minutes. The Utes had a difficult time shooting — going 12 of 32 from the field and 3 of 13 from 3-point range.
Utah got off to a rough start. The Utes fell into a 6-0 hole by turning the ball over three times and missing two shots. Their first points came on a basket by Riley Battin nearly three minutes into the game.
Tillman provided a spark later in the half, scoring his eight points in a span of less than two minutes as Utah took leads of 12-11 and 15-13. Washington erased the latter with a barrage of 3-pointers. Crisp hit four straight and Carter added one during a 15-6 run by Washington
Leading 28-21 with 7:04 to play in the half, the Huskies never let the Utes draw closer than four. Carter added a free throw and a 3-pointer in the last 48.2 seconds to close things out.
“The 3-point line, I thought, was the difference in the first half,” Krystkowiak said.
The Utes did fare any better in the second. Noah Dickerson scored the first seven points for the Huskies, who took a 15-point lead into the final 17:47.
Although Utah managed to climb back into contention by responding with a 12-2 outburst, the Utes missed their next six shots and Washington capitalized. The Huskies reeled off 12 consecutive points and their lead swelled to 59-42 with 8:34 remaining. They went on to lead by 19 in the closing seconds.
Krystkowiak acknowledged that the Utes have some work to do after a game they led for just 49 seconds.
Barefield scored a game-high 12 for Utah. Tillman was second with 10.
Carter and Crisp finished with 18 and 17, respectively for Washington.
“I thought we made progress,” Krystkowiak said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to be so connected and have all five guys, you know, defensively and connected to where you’ve got each other’s back.”
Utah returns to action Saturday (6 p.m., P12N) against Washington State. The Cougars (7-8, 0-2) lost to Colorado 92-60 in Boulder earlier Thursday evening.
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