Cougars comeback attempt falls short against Utah

WSU overcame a 21-point deficit, but it wasn't enough as team loses third straight game

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Cougars comeback attempt falls short against Utah

Junior guard Chanelle Molina cuts through the Utah defense Friday night at Beasley Coliseum.

Junior guard Chanelle Molina cuts through the Utah defense Friday night at Beasley Coliseum.

GEORGE RODRIGUEZ | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

Junior guard Chanelle Molina cuts through the Utah defense Friday night at Beasley Coliseum.

GEORGE RODRIGUEZ | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

GEORGE RODRIGUEZ | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

Junior guard Chanelle Molina cuts through the Utah defense Friday night at Beasley Coliseum.

KATIE ARCHER, Evergreen reporter

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WSU women’s basketball lost its first home conference game of the season 72-68 to Utah on Friday night in Beasley Coliseum.

Head Coach Kamie Ethridge said the Cougars played slow and let the Utes do what they wanted. She said it really hurts the team when multiple players aren’t ready to go at the start of the game.

“There’s a lot of players that have played a lot of minutes,” Ethridge said, “but it still doesn’t mean you really know … how to get yourself ready to play for 40 minutes.”

The Cougars (6-9, 1-3) opened the game by scoring first with a layup from redshirt junior forward Borislava Hristova. Hristova got into early foul trouble by picking up two with less than 4:30 to play in the first quarter.

The Utes (14-1, 3-1) controlled the first 10 minutes and led 22-10. Utah turned the ball over once while WSU had three turnovers in the first quarter.

“I think we played three quarters of the game and that’s not enough,” senior center Maria Kostourkova said, “and that’s why the end result was what it is.”

In the second quarter, junior guard Chanelle Molina scored first to end a nine-point scoring run for Utah. About halfway through the quarter the Cougars trailed by 21 points and Ethridge called a timeout.

WSU started to reduce the lead and Molina hit a three point buzzer beater to put the score at 46-32 at halftime.

Ethridge said she isn’t sure what needs to be changed to prevent falling behind by 20 points but she is happy with how the team responded.

“I don’t think we’ve ever really responded this way and come back against a really good team,” Ethridge said. “That’s a great positive for us.”

In the second half, the Cougars continued to attack the Utah lead. A layup by Hristova pulled the Cougars within nine points, but a basket by the Utes gave them back a double-digit lead.

WSU answered with a three-pointer by senior guard Alexys Swedlund and the fans in Beasley Coliseum started to affect the game. About halfway through the third quarter, Swedlund made another three to put the Cougars down by five points.

The score stayed 52-47 for almost two minutes until Utah went on a 6-0 scoring run. At the end of the third quarter, the Cougars trailed 60-53.

The two teams went back and forth early in the fourth quarter and WSU was able to pull within three points.

With 5:09 left in the game, Hristova drove to the basket for a layup and was fouled. She made the shot while falling to the ground and WSU fans rose to their feet. Hristova would tie the game at 64 by knocking down the free throw.

WSU would take its first lead since scoring the opening basket on a layup by Swedlund with 4:27 remaining. Utah took the lead back seconds later and increased its lead to five points.

With 16 seconds left, Molina missed a three-pointer that would have tied the game and the Cougars ultimately fell 72-68 to the Utes for their third straight loss.

Molina and Swedlund led the Cougars with 17 points apiece and Hristova added 13.

The Cougars will face Colorado noon Sunday at Beasley Coliseum. The game can also be seen live on Pac-12 Networks.