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Utah women’s basketball drops in AP poll after splitting games against Oregon teams

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Former Fremont High star Timea Gardiner helped Oregon State beat the Utes over the weekend.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes forward Jenna Johnson (22) guards Oregon State Beavers forward Timea Gardiner (30), in PAC-12 basketball action between the Utah Utes and the Oregon State Beavers, at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024.

The last time Timea Gardiner played in Utah was as a member of the Fremont High basketball team in 2022. She had committed to Oregon State by then, and was looking forward to making an impact at the next level as the program’s highest-ever recruit.

But the former Seawolf missed a chunk of her freshman season due to blood clots in her lungs. When she returned, it took a while to find her footing, evidenced by a poor performance against the Utes in a close home loss last season.

On Friday, though, Gardiner set foot on the Huntsman Center floor and looked like the player who got away from not only Utah coach Lynne Roberts, but every other program that recruited her. She helped the Beavers to a 58-44 win, and a six-spot jump to No. 11 in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll for women’s basketball.

“I love to play them,” Gardiner said of the Utes. “Obviously it’s a little bit personal because it’s my home school. … You want to kind of — not prove them wrong, but kind of just I guess make a statement is the best way to put that. That’s how I feel every time I play them.”

That statement helped drop Utah two spots in the poll to No. 22. The Utes beat Oregon soundly after losing to Oregon State.

In men’s basketball, the BYU Cougars climbed two spots to No. 19 after splitting games against Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Utah State, meanwhile, is no longer listed in the top 25 after losing to Nevada and beating Boise State. But the Aggies are just outside of it with the most points among the other teams receiving votes.

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