Utah Women’s Hoops Ready To Finally Start Season After COVID-19 Challenges

Dec 4, 2020, 1:25 PM
Lynne Roberts - Utah Utes Women's Basketball...
Utah women's basketball head coach Lynne Roberts (Photo by: Steve Griffin, Deseret News)
(Photo by: Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – At long last the Utah women’s basketball team will begin the 2020-21 season on Sunday, Dec. 6 against the Oregon Ducks.

Utah had their two non-conference games against Southern Utah and Utah Valley canceled after one player or staff member tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the entire team to quarantine.

Head coach Lynne Roberts explained to the media what the last two weeks have been like for her program.

“Every day is its own situation,” Roberts said. “This is not stuff we’ve ever had to deal with. We had a positive exposure and so we had to shut down and go into quarantine, and isolate players and do all of that. We couldn’t do anything for a week, so we were all just home. That was over Thanksgiving week and that was hard. We tried to keep our team engaged. If they had roommates, we had to separate the roommates, you know, kids were either by themselves in their apartments or dorm or they were in a hotel room by themselves, and they couldn’t do anything, we had to have food delivered. All that kind of stuff. It’s not fun, especially on the week that you think you’re gonna be playing your first games.”

The Utes have returned to practice for individual workouts and will be officially out of quarantine on Friday. They will travel to Oregon on Saturday.

Utah Players To Watch For

Brynna Maxwell

As a true freshman last season, Maxwell was Utah’s leading scorer with 13.1 points per game. She led the Pac-12 with 83 three-pointers made and was second in the conference with 47 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Maxwell was named All-Conference honorable mention and Pac-12 All-Freshman first team last season.

Expect her numbers to rise as she continues to transition to Utah’s star player with her incredible shooting.

Dru Gylten

Gylten is Utah’s floor general. As a sophomore last season, she was one of the best passers in the conference. In 2019-20, Gylten averaged 6.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

With two seasons of Pac-12 women’s basketball under her belt, Gylten will only get better from here.

Kemery Martin

The Corner Canyon star is entering her second season with Utah. She was the Gatorade Player of the Year and Ms. Basketball in the state of Utah out of high school. Last season as a true freshman, Martin averaged 4.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 13.9 minutes. The experience from last season should allow Martin to elevate her game and be a big contributor for Utah for seasons to come.

Andrea Torres

Torres started in 22 of their 31 games last season, averaging 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. She has a great basketball IQ along with a nice shooting stroke. Another great asset for Utah to have at their disposal this season.

Niyah Becker

The junior has improved her game every season at Utah. As a freshman in 2018-19, Becker averaged 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.4 minutes. Last season, she received more minutes and earned 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game averages. Her versatility will be needed this season in the gauntlet that is the Pac-12.

Lola Pendande

As a true freshman last season, Pendande showed that she has a lot of potential as a big for the Utes. She is a raw talent but averaged 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. As she continues to develop under Roberts and her staff, Pendande’s future is very bright.

Kennady McQueen

McQueen is a highly-touted recruit as a four-star and ESPN 100 prospect from North Summit High School. The guard was ranked No. 60 overall and No. 18 in her position according to ESPN’s recruiting rankings. Her mother Melanee played basketball at Utah.

Peyton McFarland

Another four-star and ESPN 100 recruit entering her first season with the Utes. McFarland is a 6’4 forward from Boise, Idaho. According to ESPN, McFarland is the 80th ranked recruit in the nation and No. 10 forward.

About Oregon

The Ducks had one of the best teams in all of college basketball last season. Their star player Sabrina Ionescu was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. This season, Oregon is ranked No. 10 in the country and are 2-0 this season.

They picked up a 116-51 win over Seattle on Nov. 28 and beat Portland, 85-52 on Nov. 30. Through two games, Taylor Mikesell is Oregon’s leading scorer with an average of 19.5 points per game. She is 11-of-16 from downtown and 13-for-19 from the field. Erin Boley is averaging 16.5 points and 6 rebounds per game. Prince Sedona is the third Ducks player to average double figures in scoring with 15 per game.

Oregon will host Colorado on Friday afternoon before facing the Utes on Sunday at 12 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Networks.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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