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Coming off sweep of the Washington schools, momentum on Utah women’s basketball’s side with No. 8 Stanford looming

Utah guard Julie Brosseau (25) brings the ball up court in the fourth quarter during an NCAA college basketball game against Oregon Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah women’s basketball shook off a three-game losing streak in a road sweep of Washington State and Washington over the weekend.

“We are coming off of a great weekend on the road. We got two wins against two competitive teams. We needed to get those wins to separate a little bit there in the conference standings, which is good,” Utah head coach Lynne Roberts said.

After righting the ship with wins over both the Cougars (11-13, 4-8) and the Huskies (11-12. 3-9), the Utes (12-11, 5-7 Pac-12) have some momentum heading into this weekend’s tough challenge against No. 8 Stanford.

“It certainly feels good to win, but I think the best part is that we’re playing better and we’re playing well. There seems to be, even in the locker room, huddles, practice, on the airplane — there’s some good momentum happening right now, which is great. It’s fun to see,” Roberts said.

Freshmen Brynna Maxwell and Lola Pendande continue to lead the team in scoring, averaging 13.1 and 11.2 points per game, respectively. Seniors Daneesha Provo, who has started seven games since her return from injury on Dec. 14, and Kiana Moore are injecting leadership, as well as averaging six ppg.

“I feel like our young players are becoming consistent, which is huge. Our seniors are coming on strong, too. Kiana Moore and Daneesha Provo are doing what they do,” Roberts said.

As the young team has gained more experience, it’s started to show in their play, especially in the past two games.

“The momentum is there and the players aren’t thinking as much, they’re able to just kind of compete. That’s been a big word all season, ‘stop thinking and start competing.’ They’re getting to that point. I can just tell that there’s a little more confidence, a little more swagger, composure, all of those things,” Roberts said.

Utah guard Dru Gylten (10) brings the ball up court in the third quarter during an NCAA college basketball game against Oregon Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer, AP

The Utes, who struggled out of the gate with a tough non-conference schedule, could be poised to start playing their best basketball in February and March.

“Every season has its own journey and story. This one has been unique. I’d rather get it rolling and peak in February and March than do that in November and December,” Roberts said.

Utah will have a tough task this weekend, facing the Cardinal on Friday before closing out the home stand with Cal on Sunday.

The Utes took on the Cardinal two weeks ago in Palo Alto and lost 82-49, but will try and shock Stanford at the Huntsman Center for the second year in a row. Last year, Utah beat No. 6 Stanford 75-68 in Salt Lake City. To do so again, the Utes will have to slow down Lexie Hull, who is averaging 13.3 ppg, and Kiana Williams (13 ppg).

“They’re good, they don’t make mistakes. They never beat themselves. To beat them, you have to not beat yourself, too. You’ve got to stick to the game plan, you’ve got to be really focused and intense on the strategy component. It’s February, everybody knows each other’s personnel. It comes down to which team, which players can execute that for 40 minutes,” Roberts said, noting that Utah hasn’t put together a complete 40 minutes yet.