Women’s Hoops Earns Split

The 25th-ranked Utah women’s basketball team already has one fourth the number of losses that last year’s team did, but only one 28th of the wins.

So, that would put the Utes at 1-1.

Utah split its season-opening contests at the Gopher Basketball Classic in Minneapolis, Minn., falling first to Santa Clara 67-59, then recovering on Sunday to defeat Butler 77-54.

In the first game, Utah was clearly missing components of last year’s team that went 28-4 overall and advanced to the NCAA’s Sweet 16.

Though the hard-nosed defense was evident, as the Utes limited the Broncos to just 32.7 percent shooting, there was plenty of offensive struggling to counteract it, as the Utes themselves shot just 38.8 percent and committed 23 turnovers?more than twice as many as Santa Clara.

It was the miscues that U coach Elaine Elliott faulted, as the lost possessions gave SC an advantage in field goal attempts (55-49) and free throw attempts (36-21).

“The biggest disappointment is we were outplayed,” Elliott said. “We turned the ball over too many times which cost us scoring opportunities.”

Utah senior center Lauren Beckman led the way with a double-double, scoring 17 points on 7-11 shooting to go with 11 boards. And though she had 6 turnovers, he also became just the 17th player in U women’s basketball history to score 1,000 career points.

Seniors Erin Gibbons and Lindsay Herbert added 18 and 13 points, respectively.

For Santa Clara, guards Caroline Gruening and Becki Ashbaugh had 12 and 10 points apiece, while center Julie Butler registered 21 on 8-14 shooting.

On Sunday, though, it was a different Butler the Utes faced, and this time, they had considerably more success.

Gibbons had the team-high in scoring yet again, with 23 points, but it was Beckman filling the stat line with her second straight double-double, this time bringing in 22 points (on 10-15 from the field) and 12 rebounds. Frosh Lana Sitterud came off the bench to add 12.

And while Utah’s shooting was much better this time (48.3 percent), Elliott was still unhappy with the offense.

“We are still struggling, overall. Our biggest problems are turnovers and giving the other team too many chances at the free throw line,” she said.

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