Brynna Maxwell leads Utah in 71-62 road win at Cal; Bears continue to chase first Pac-12 win

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BERKELEY, Calif. – Friday afternoon, in front of a large crowd of young kids on School Haas Rock Day in Berkeley, Utah (10-8) topped California 71-62 in a back and forth contest that saw seven ties and ten lead changes. Unfortunately for Cal (8-10), the loss set them back to 0-7 in conference play while Utah is now 3-4 in the conference.

“That was a tough one,” Cal head coach Charmin Smith said postgame. “There were momentum swings happening back and forth, and we just got caught on the wrong side of the last one. We want to get a win in conference play, but it wasn’t meant to be today.”

The Bears faced the Utes without starting senior center CJ West who is out due to concussion protocol. The last time she played was at Oregon State on January 17. West is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.8 per game and also contributes 8.1 points per contest. With her out, the Bears still matched Utah on the boards with each team pulling down 39 rebounds.

Cal got off to hot start in the first quarter, earning a six-point lead by the halfway mark of the period with points from junior forward Alaysia Styles, senior center Chen Yue and senior guard/forward Jaelyn Brown. Utah responded quickly to tie up the game, 12 all, at the 3:20 mark and finished out the period on a 5-2 run capped by a jumper from freshman guard Kemery Martin.

By outscoring the Utes 15-11 in the second quarter, the Bears went into halftime with a 29-28 advantage. Senior guard Sara Anastasieska led Cal in the second period with nine points. At the break, she had 12 while Brynna Maxwell paced Utah with nine.

At the outset in the third quarter, Cal looked to take over the game, holding on to the lead for the first five minutes. The Bears had a 42-39 advantage at 4:27 in the period. However, led by Maxwell, Utah turned the tables and went on a 9-4 run to finish out the period and went into the last ten minutes leading 48-46. Maxwell scored 10 points in the third quarter.

Most of the fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair with neither team gaining more than a four-point advantage until the last two minutes when the Utes began to pull away. Late in the game, at just under a minute to go, the officials assessed the Bears with a technical foul on Styles and a foul on Utah’s Maxwell. With the Utes making both of their shots, they extended their lead to ten. While Cal fought to get shots up in the last 35 seconds, the effort turned out to be futile as they could not overcome their deficit.

Bears head coach Charmin Smith cited a laundry list of issues that Cal dealt with in the defeat that included foul trouble for Brown as well as freshman guard Jazlen Green who fouled out.

“It was tough to manage,” Smith said about her team’s woes.

“There are a lot of things that just kind of kept us a little bit off balance.”

Utah’s Maxwell scored 19 points of her game-leading 28 points in the second half. Sophomore guard Dru Gylten also finished in double figures for the Utes with 11 points.

For the Bears, Anastasieska earned 22 points. Styles scored 12 to go along with six rebounds. Green was also in double figures with 12 points. Yue led the team in rebounds with 10 plus seven points.

Utah continues its road trip across the Bay, facing Stanford on Sunday at noon PT. Cal stays home to host Colorado on the same day and at the same time.

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