Utes Play Sloppy, but Win Exhibition

Before the National Women’s Basketball League Elite faced off against the Utah women’s team Saturday night, team members made a side trip to Idaho?and first played Boise State.

But while it was the Elite that played two games in one day, it was the 25th-ranked Utes that looked ragged in a 72-56 win.

Utah committed 27 turnovers, squandered most of a 22-point halftime lead and was outscored 33-27 in the latter 20 minutes before rallying late for the win.

“We struggled offensively in the second half; we’re just not doing the right things,” said Ute coach Elaine Elliott. “The turnovers were a real problem. Most of it is just our passing choices.”

The passing was just fine early on, as the U built a 15-2 lead in the early going, while the NWBL hit just 1-of-7. A 21-4 run put the Utes up 39 17 with 3:49 to go in the half, and Utah coasted to a 45-23 lead at the break.

But in the second half, Utah’s newbie reserves started fumbling the ball around like they were playing hot potato. While sophomore center Carley Marshall led four Utes in double figures with a team-high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, her four reserve compatriots had just 2 points apiece.

“It’s tough?we’ve got four seniors with a lot of experience, but no one after that. Our bench is really thin,” Elliott said.

Meanwhile, the Elite started hitting transition shots. Suddenly, the fatigue from playing Boise disappeared. Shooting guard Tamicha Jackson (who led the Elite with 17 points) nailed the last of three consecutive treys by the Elite to cap a 9-0 run and pull the team within 55-46 of the Utes.

The 9-point margin was as close as they would get, though. With Marshall scoring 9 of her points down the stretch, the NWBL never again got closer than 10.