Cal upsets Utah in first round of Pac-12 tourney, Utes lose but exceed preseason expectations

No. 10 seed Cal (14-16, 5-14 Pac-12) topped No. 7 seed Utah (17-13, 9-10), 66-63, in a hard-fought overtime contest in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament Thursday afternoon in Seattle. It was only the second overtime game in tournament history (2006 title game, UCLA 85, Stanford 76).

“We thought we’d start out with what should be an exciting Pac-12 Tournament with a lot of madness,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb postgame. “Really grateful to be sitting up here with the win. Utah has had an incredible season and they’ll continue into postseason. Lynne’s done a great job. You know, we knew what a tough opponent they’d be considering they’ve beaten us twice already.”

Freshman center Kristine Anigwe led four Bears in double figures with 18 points and 14 rebounds. However, she did not play in the extra period as she fouled out with 1:51 to go in the game. Thirty seconds later, Utah’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Emily Potter, also fouled out. Her miscue led to free throws by Penina Davidson. After making one free throw, Davidson and the Bears were tied with the Utes, 54 all.

Utah led for most of the game and went into the half with a 30-24 lead. However, the Bears tied it up in the third quarter. Utah responded with a 10-4 run to end the period. Cal outscored Utah 15-9 in the fourth quarter leading to the tie at the end of regulation.

Neither team led by more than three in the back and forth of overtime. A Utah turnover with less than minute to go gave Cal the opportunity to score and take the lead. Mikayla Cowling drained a jumper with 18 seconds left. On Utah’s next possession, Cal freshman MaAne Mosely stole the ball and was fouled by Katie Kuklok. Mosley hit 1-of-2 of her free throws. Utah’s Paige Crozon’s three-point shot attempt with two seconds left in overtime did not go in and the Bears came away with the victory.

Cal’s Courtney Range finished with 14 points plus eight rebounds. Cowling added 12 points and four assists. Davidson contributed 12 points and nine rebounds.

Four Utah players scored 14 points: Malia Nawahine, Crozon and Potter. Crozon also pulled down eight rebounds. Danielle Rodriguez had 11 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Utah coach Lynne Roberts praised the effort of Cal after halftime.

“They did a nice job during that second half,” said Roberts. “I thought they kind of took momentum back and we just kind of struggled to get the pace of the game that we’re used to playing and we’ve had success playing at. I thought they did a good job. They just played really hard in that second half, and they played kind of fearless and nothing to lose, so you kind of have to tip your hat to them.”

Even though Utah loss, they exceeded expectations this season. Preseason Pac-12 polls had the Utes as No. 11.

“We were picked to finish 11th in this unbelievable conference, and we finished seventh, and I’m proud of that,” said Roberts. “It’s not first, but you’ve got to take steps to get to where you want to go, and I think these guys have done — our players have done an amazing job and I’m proud to coach them.”

Cal meets No. 2 seed Arizona State tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. PST. The Sun Devils won both regular season games (57-49 in Tempe and 64-49 in Berkeley) against the Bears.


  • This was the first tournament meeting between the two teams. Cal is now 16-14 in tournament play; the Utes drop to 2-5. Cal’s 16 wins are second-most in tournament history (Stanford-37, UCLA-15).
  • The No. 10 seed has now beaten the No. 7 seed four times in 14 tries. Cal’s No. 10 seeding is its lowest in the 15-year history of the tournament.
  • Utah had not played an overtime game this season.


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