Road rage

Shona Thorburn did it again Saturday.

The junior point guard tallied 22 points, 12 rebounds and five assists as she led the U women’s basketball team to a 61-53 road win against archrival BYU.

The Utes (15-5, 4-1) trailed for most of the game. The Cougars (11-4, 2-3) led by four at halftime, and extended their lead to as many as 11 early in the second half. Midway through the second period the Utes launched a 10-0 run to tie the score at 44. The Utes maintained control of the game from that point on.

The win was the Utes’ third in a row in the Marriott Center. Though the importance of the victory might be mitigated by the fact that Thorburn and her partner in crime Kim Smith have never lost to BYU, the Utes’ still understand the value of a road win in a heated rivalry.

“They always play well against us so it was a good win for us,” Thorburn said. “Especially to come from behind on the road against a good team-it said a lot about our team’s character.”

BYU head coach Jeff Judkins lamented his team’s inability to close out the game. Early in the second, half the Cougars appeared to be well on their way to picking up a huge win against conference powerhouse Utah, but it was not to be.

“We played really well for the first two-thirds of the game,” Judkins said. “I thought we had momentum.”

Thorburn, the assist leader in the Mountain West Conference, has now led her team in scoring in three of the Utes’ last four outings. She said the difference in the Utes’ performance between the first half and the second half had a lot to do with the team’s attitude.

“We were just going through the motions in the first half,” Thorburn said. “We came out in the second half with a lot more energy. You could see the change in attitude.”

Smith, the two-time MWC Player of the Year, notched her ninth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. It was her 20th career double-double. Smith played an integral role in the Utes’ second half comeback.

BYU’s senior forwards played well, as expected, but junior Ambrosia Anderson was noticeably uninvolved. Despite coming off the bench for most of the season, Anderson is the Cougar’s leading scorer. She was held to two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes of action.

The Utes also shut down Julie Sullivan, the Cougars’ feisty senior point guard, when the game was on the line. Sullivan frustrated the Utes early, scoring 14 of her 16 points in the first half, but was nowhere to be found when the Utes made their run.

With the win, the Utes remain tied with New Mexico for the regular-season conference title. The Utes’ next game is against the UNLV Rebels (11-8, 2-3) in a nationally televised contest on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.

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