Utes share MWC title

It took a couple of tries, but the U women’s basketball team finally clinched a share of the MWC regular-season title Saturday as it defeated San Diego State, 63-51.

Even though the Utes shared the title with New Mexico, they will have the second seed in the MWC Tournament because they fell short in the tiebreaker.

The tiebreaker was based on what the two teams’ records were against third-place UNLV, since Utah and New Mexico split their two regular-season games.

Utah’s loss to UNLV last week not only hurt the Utes in terms of winning the outright title, but it also sealed the first seed for the Lobos.

But the Utes didn’t care Saturday as they took down the Aztecs.

However, it wasn’t as easy as it would seem against one of the worst teams in the conference.

The 12-point win was not indicative of the way the Utes played the entire game, especially in the first half.

Utah didn’t even look like it wanted the title, as the Aztecs jumped out to a quick 13-point lead at the Huntsman Center.

“We were having trouble putting the ball in the hole in the first half,” U coach Elaine Elliott said.

However, a second-half surge gave the Utes the lead they needed and the team never looked back.

Even though the Utes started to really knife into the lead in the second half, the Utes showed their increased intensity in the closing moments of the first half.

Eight-straight points to close out the period displayed the confidence emerging in the team, which would carry them through the second half.

It was one of the best halves of the season for the Utes, as they shot 63 percent from the field and outscored the Aztecs 42-25.

It opened up with a 21-5 Ute run, and the Aztecs could do nothing but watch as they were completely dominated.

The variety of scoring in the offense made it next to impossible for the Aztecs to do anything.

Four Ute players scored in double figures. In her last regular season game at the Huntsman Center, Kelsy Stireman led the Utes with 15 points.

The other senior on the team, Carley Marshall, finished the game with 13 points.

The two Ute sophomores, Shona Thorburn and Kim Smith, rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

With the win, the Utes accomplished one of the goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the season, which was winning the conference title.

Even though they didn’t win the title outright, Elliott is proud of what her players did.

“These kids deserve to enjoy this title,” Elliott said. “They went the whole year with the burden of expectations, and sometimes that can take the fun out of it. These kids went 12-2 in conference play this year, the same record as last year. If New Mexico wants to join us, that’s fine. I can’t control anything else.”

The Lobos took the top spot in the conference for the first time in the league’s history and will face Air Force .

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