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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Trapped in New Mexico

Shona Thorburn scored a season-high 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Saturday-but it wasn’t enough.

The U women’s basketball team suffered a difficult 61-55 road loss to New Mexico in front of nearly 15,000 fans in an afternoon showdown of the two best teams in the Mountain West Conference.

With the victory, the Lobos (14-2, 3-0 MWC) notched their 10th straight home win and took sole possession of first place in the conference. The Lobos have won three of their last four against the Utes including the final game of last year’s conference tournament-a loss that cost the Utes a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The Utes (14-5, 2-1) had a six-game win streak snapped and fell to a tie with Wyoming for second place in the conference. The Utes have traditionally been the dominant team in the MWC and will have to deal with the psychological impact of the fact that they no longer rule the conference. Last year could have been written off as an aberration, but it looks like New Mexico women’s basketball is here to stay.

In an emerging pattern, New Mexico shut down U star Kim Smith when it mattered. She finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, but eight of Smith’s points came at the end of the game when the outcome was no longer in question.

The Lobos seemed to gameplan around stopping Smith, the two-time conference player of the year. In the Lobos’ last three wins against the Utes, Smith has been limited well below her usual 17-point average.

New Mexico lived up to its billing as the best defensive team in the conference. The Lobos forced the Utes to commit 21 turnovers-a season high, and held the Utes to just seven assists-well down from their average of almost 16.

The Lobos used a balanced attack to stop the Utes. They had five players score more than eight points while the Utes had only two players score more than six points. Perhaps the difference in the game, the Lobo bench outscored the Ute bench 24-0. With little confidence in her bench, U head coach Elaine Elliott was forced to play Smith and Thorburn for the entire game.

The Utes have a small break in their schedule and won’t play again until Saturday when they face their archrivals in Provo. Game time will be announced later in the week.

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