Women’s basketball hits the road for a game with Weber State

The U women’s basketball team (5-2) heads to Ogden Thursday for a battle with instate rival Weber State University (4-2). Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Dee Events Center.

After starting the season with two losses in their first three games, the Utes have won four straight including an impressive victory over PAC-10 power Washington last weekend.

U head coach Elaine Elliott said her team has been working hard to make sure the momentum is not lost against Weber. Knowing the Wildcats would be chomping at the bit for an opportunity to take down the Utes-the traditional powerhouse of the state of Utah-Elliott expects a passionate performance from both sides.

“The kids have been playing hard and practicing hard,” Elliott said. “That’s the kind of momentum we want to see continue. In-state games are always intense and this one should be no different.”

The Utes are led by juniors Shona Thorburn and Kim Smith, the same two individuals who have dominated since they were freshmen. Thorburn is already having her finest season as a Ute, averaging 12 points per game, 7.9 rebounds and almost seven assists. Thorburn was the standout star in the Utes’ last two games, and her success should continue against the Wildcats.

Smith, the two-time Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, is the conference leader in rebounds with 10.3 per game, and she leads the Utes in scoring, averaging just more than 14 points per game.

The Wildcats are led by senior forward Julie Gjertsen, potentially the best player in the entire Big Sky Conference. Gjertsen is averaging 18.7 points per game and 8.8 rebounds. She has already been named the Big Sky Player of the Week twice this year, and should give the Utes some trouble in the low post.

The Wildcats won one early season tournament and finished second in another, and if the Utes don’t maintain their focus, they could have problems shutting down the Wildcats’ aggressive players.

The Utes return home for a game against No. 23 Texas Christian University this Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. The Frogs are having an incredible season, with victories against No. 13 Michigan State and No. 3 Georgia.

TCU won the Rainbow Wahine Tournament in Hawaii earlier this season-the same tournament in which the Utes finished fifth. The two teams did not face each other in the Hawaii tournament.

The Utes’ schedule doesn’t get any easier from there. During the Winter Break, the Utes will have games against perennial powers Oklahoma, Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount University.

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