The Utes’ junior point guard Shona Thorburn set the stage on fire Thursday night as she led the U women’s basketball team (4-2) to an 88-66 victory over a sharp-shooting UVSC squad (1-5).

Thorburn came within one point of recording her first ever triple-double while setting a career high with 11 assists and tying a career high with 11 rebounds.

Thorburn missed a layup with 20 seconds remaining on the clock that would have given her the elusive triple-double. The Utes rebounded and got the ball back to Shona, but not knowing how close she was to a triple-double, Thorburn elected to run out the clock near mid-court. After the game Thorburn said that if someone had told her how close she was, she probably would have made a move to the basket.

“I definitely would have taken the shot if I knew how close I was to a triple-double,” Thorburn said. “Still, it’s kind of exciting to come that close.”

Thorburn, a natural shooting guard who took over point guard duties this season, dazzled the crowd with no-look passes and behind the back assists throughout the game. Prior to Thursday night’s contest, Thorburn had only found herself in double figures in assists one other time in her career. She said making more passes was an integral part of her new role as a point guard.

“Now that I’m playing a different position, I need to be able to find the open shooter,” Thorburn said. “My role is to be aggressive, to get to the middle and then dish.”

“I would rather have 11 assists than 11 points any day,” she added.

U head coach Elaine Elliott said that Thorburn’s impressive stats were less a function of Thorburn doing anything new and more of a result of the other players starting to make their baskets.

“She’s been doing this all year,” Elliott said. “But kids haven’t been finishing. Tonight we shot a little better.”

The Utes shot 46.9 percent from the floor in Thursday night’s game, improving significantly on their season average of 36.8 percent. But even with improved shooting, the Utes found themselves in a hotly contested battle midway through the second half against a team with only one win on the year.

UVSC finished with four players in double-figures in scoring, but two players in particular kept the Wolverines in the game. Forward Miriam Palkki and guard Jessica Scabby were a combined 7-for-13 from beyond the three-point line, often making big shots to keep the deficit to a minimum. Though UVSC never led in the game, they pulled to within three points at the 15-minute mark on the merit of a 14-4 run to open the second half.

Junior Kim Smith responded by attacking the post against an undersized Wolverine squad. She scored on three consecutive trips down the floor to keep the Utes out of the Wolverines reach. Smith finished the game with 22 points and five rebounds.

The Utes also received an impressive performance from sophomore Heidi Carlsen. She set a career high for points with 12 on 3-of-5 from the floor including two three-pointers. Carlsen’s previous high for scoring was two.

The Utes will be back on the floor Saturday afternoon for another home game against Washington at 3 p.m.

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