Hard-luck Washington State, struggling Utah to square off

National Sports

A two-week pause for COVID-19 concerns wasn’t quite long enough for Washington State.

The Cougars returned to the court Thursday for the first time since Dec. 22 still without forward Noah Williams, their second-leading scorer, who remained in the COVID-19 protocol.

Despite 25 points from Tyrell Roberts, Washington State fell 83-78 at Colorado in Pacific-12 Conference play.

The Cougars (8-6 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) will try to rebound, likely without Williams again, when they play Saturday against Utah (8-7, 1-4) in Salt Lake City.

Washington State’s six losses this season have come by a combined 24 points.

“We’ve just got to keep punching,” Cougars coach Kyle Smith said.

It was a season-high point total for Roberts, a guard who earned NCAA Division II All-America honors at UC San Diego last season before transferring.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you don’t win the game,” Roberts said of his big night.

The Utes have lost three in a row. They blew a 14-point lead in the second half Thursday in a 74-68 loss to visiting Washington.

Branden Carlson, Lazar Stefanovic and Gabe Madsen each scored 12 points for Utah and Marco Anthony and Rollie Worster tallied 10 apiece. Anthony grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds and led the Utes with four assists.

It was just Utah’s second loss in eight home games this season.

The Utes have committed 54 turnovers during their three-game skid, including 19 Thursday.

“Obviously, turnovers were a major, major issue for us,” coach Craig Smith said. “We didn’t finish strong on the offensive end with 14 points in the last whatever (10 minutes). But even with that, the (stats are favorable, besides turnovers). We gotta find a way to finish those games. We gotta take care of the ball much better.”

–Field Level Media

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