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Megan Huff has career night, but Utes falter down stretch in loss to No. 17 Oregon State

SALT LAKE CITY — Megan Huff turned in a career night, scoring 26 points, but scoreless stretches from Utah in the third and fourth quarters doomed the Utes as they fell to No. 17 Oregon State 69-58 Friday night at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

The game was defined by two stretches in which the Utah offense was held at bay. The first, in the third quarter, saw the Utes held without a point for over six minutes in the third quarter as Oregon State went on an 11-0 run to close the quarter, then — with Utah down by two with two minutes to play — the Beavers went on a 10-1 run to close out the game and defeat the Utes.

“They did a nice job, you have to give them (Oregon State) credit defensively in the second half; we were getting good looks in the first half, looks we wanted to, and they really took them away,” Utah head coach Lynne Roberts said.

Oregon State was led by Marie Gulich, who scored 18 points, including back-to-back layups late to ice the game. Utah was aided by Huff, who scored a career-high 26 points, and Emily Potter, who turned in 14.

“She was good, she was efficient, 10 for 16 (shooting), I thought she got a little tired there, and in the second half they (Oregon State) were not giving her much space at all, but she can score at all three levels, she can shoot the three, pull up and then around the bucket, so she’s a tough matchup, and I thought in the first half she kind of had her way and then in the second half they did a good job taking her out of what she’s good at,” Roberts said of Huff.

Oregon State shot 48 percent from the field, compared to 39 percent for Utah, which was the difference in the game.

“We did a pretty good job defensively for the game, but just couldn’t get it going offensively. We forced 18 turnovers, we didn’t foul, they only shot eight free throws, they hit less threes than their average, way less. It was the offense that was the issue,” Roberts said.

Utah was active on defense in the first quarter, forcing six Oregon State turnovers, but struggled on offense to open the game, shooting just 35 percent in the first period — but trailed just 17-14 heading into the second quarter.

Utah took its first lead 30 seconds into the second quarter on a Tae BoClair layup. The Utes outscored the Beavers 22-17 in the period, shooting 60 percent in the quarter while holding Oregon State to just 35 percent shooting. Huff and Potter took over the second quarter, scoring 16 points and 12 points respectively in the first half to lead the Utes into the locker room at halftime with a 36-34 lead.

During the third quarter, Oregon State outscored Utah 16-8 while holding the Utes scoreless for six minutes.

The Beavers clamped down on defense again in the fourth quarter, holding Utah without points for two straight minutes until Daneesha Provo got her own rebound after missing a pair of free throws and made a layup to close the gap to five. Provo came back with a 3-pointer to cut the Beavers' lead to two points with two minutes remaining. Out of timeouts, Oregon State countered with a Gulich layup, then Gulich laid it up again to give the Beavers a 63-57 lead with a minute remaining.

Next up, the Utes will welcome seventh-ranked Oregon to the Huntsman Center on Sunday.

“It’s one game, we just have to stay the course. Oregon State’s really good, they were in the Final Four two years ago. I think this one stings because we realize that we’re that close, it was a one-possession game with two minutes to go, and then we just couldn’t convert,” Roberts said. “We’ll watch it and learn from it, but we’ve got to move on and focus on Oregon, a really good Oregon team on Sunday.”