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What made season such a success for Utah women’s basketball? ‘Our kids bought in’

And with several young and talented players returning, Utah coach Lynne Roberts sees a bright future

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Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts talks to her team during Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas.

Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts talks to her team during Pac-12 tournament championship game against Stanford at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 6, 2022.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

This article was first published in the Ute Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Wednesday night.

The Utah women’s basketball team provided plenty of thrills this season, including a remarkable run in the Pac-12 Tournament and a first-round victory over Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament.

On Sunday, the Utes’ season came to an end with a 78-56 loss to No. 2-seeded Texas.

But coach Lynne Roberts is optimistic about the future of the program, which boasts several young and talented players, including starting freshmen Gianna Kneepkens and Jenna Johnson and starting sophomores Kennady McQueen, Peyton McFarland and Kelsey Rees.

“I am incredibly proud of our team,” Roberts said Sunday. “We’re so young. Our culture is fantastic. Our kids bought in. They play super hard. They’re coachable.”

On the other hand, changes are happening for the Utah men’s basketball team as junior Lahat Thioune has entered the transfer portal, while Riley Battin has also decided to enter the portal.

Meanwhile, the Utah gymnastics team captured its second consecutive Pac-12 championship in West Valley City last weekend.

Also, the Ute football team, the defending Pac-12 champion, starts spring practices on March 22.

Numbers game

15: Number of 3-pointers made by Utah in a victory over Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament. 

92: Number of points scored by Utah in that win over the Razorbacks, the most in program history in the tournament.

198: Score earned by the Red Rocks in winning their second consecutive Pac-12 championship.

From the archives

Extra points

  • ‘We will be back’: Future looks bright for young Utah women’s basketball team after successful postseason run (Deseret News)
  • NCAA women: Utah puts together a complete and record-setting performance in Big Dance rout of Arkansas (Deseret News)
  • The Utes showed they are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country in 1st-round win (Deseret News)
  • What Eric Weddle told Marcus Williams about playing for the Baltimore Ravens (Deseret News)
  • ‘The straw that stirs the drink’: How point guard Dru Gylten makes Utah’s NCAA-bound team go (Deseret News)
  • Star Lotulelei released by the Buffalo Bills (Deseret News)
  • 3 more Utah Runnin’ Utes have reportedly entered the transfer portal (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers

Great year, ladies! Some games the three-point shooting was incredible. Looking forward to better things next year. Thank you!

— Who am I sir?

This is one of the better QB rooms Utah’s had in recent history. Although they might lose one at the end of the season. Depth is good to have, but the top 4 QBs will be 4 star guys, all young in the program, with the exception (Bryson) Barnes who might have gotten well deserved attention for going from 7th string walk-on to impressive in the Rose Bowl in one season. They are too good to all stay. My guess is that it’s rather obvious that (Nate) Johnson will redshirt along with Rose (who’s also probably too good to not be in the picture at all) but the #3 spot is the guy who’s likely to look for greener pastures next year if Johnson is as good as I think he is on scout or practices. But a good problem to have. TEs are stacked and look like the go to passing weapon. Two very good years coming up, perhaps more. The only problem is that talent seems to be in the same age group. For Utah to be so good so young is a great sign but it also can feed into the cyclical pattern which usually resets every 4 years swapping seasoned players with youth.

— Josh from London

Up next

March 25 | 6 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Northern Colorado | @Salt Lake City | Utah Live Stream

March 26 | 2 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Mercer | @Salt Lake City | Utah Live Stream

March 26 | 3 p.m. | Softball | vs. Weber State | @Salt Lake City

March 27 | 11 a.m. | Baseball | vs. Mercer | @Salt Lake City | Utah Live Stream

March 27 | 1 p.m. | Softball | vs. Weber State | @Ogden