The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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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Back with a vengeance

The U women’s basketball team (15-5, 4-1 MWC) has an opportunity to make things right Thursday at 7 p.m. when they meet the UNLV Rebels (11-8, 2-3 MWC) in the Huntsman Center.

Last year, in the second-to-last game of the regular season, the Utes suffered a brutal overtime loss at home at the hands of the Rebels. The loss snapped a 29-game home winning streak and cost the Utes sole possession of the regular-season Mountain West Conference title.

“Nobody wanted to share the conference title last year,” said U head coach Elaine Elliott. “We still got a share of it, but that’s not what anybody wanted.”

As a result of failing to win the regular-season MWC title outright, the NCAA Tournament Committee was able to justify keeping the Utes out of the season-ending tournament.

The U women are doing their best to put last year’s loss behind them.

Senior shooting guard Lana Sitterud said last year’s loss was still “fresh” on her mind, but that it would have little bearing on the results of the game.

Elliott insists that last year’s loss doesn’t add to the significance of the game. She said there is plenty of motivation to win without adding something that happened in the past.

“Holding home court is always important for us,” Elliott said. “But it won’t mean anything more that we lost to them here last year.”

With no meaningful graduations during the offseason, the Rebels return the same core of players they had last year. Known as an athletic group, the Rebels have several players that could pose a problem for the Utes.

“They’re extremely dangerous,” Elliott said. “They’re the most athletic team in the conference.”

Junior guard Sheena Moore and senior center RanDee Henry are two of the players Elliott is referring to when she worries about UNLV’s athleticism.

Moore is potentially the fastest point guard in the MWC, and her newfound ability to score makes her even more deadly. She is currently ranked third in the conference with 15.8 points per game.

Henry is also a scoring threat, but she doubles as a dominant rebounder. Last year she finished second in the conference in rebounds and first in the MWC in scoring. She was named the MWC Co-Player of the Year along with Utah’s Kim Smith. This year Henry is ranked third in the MWC in rebounding with 8.9 per game and fourth in the conference in scoring with 15.2 per game. She leads the MWC in offensive rebounds.

“Moore and Henry are legitimate Player of the Year candidates,” Elliott said.

Sitterud said the athleticism posed by UNLV could become a problem if they start to make their jump shots.

“It seems like every one of their players can jump out of the gym,” Sitterud said. “We need to be able to get some stops and make them play defense-That’s the way you can beat them.”

Elliott agrees. She said solid defense and ball control would be the keys to a Ute victory.

“They’re so athletic,” Elliott said. “You have to find ways to neutralize that. You can’t turn the ball over, you have to have discipline boxing out and you have to get your hands on the ball defensively.”

The Utes defeated the Rebels two out of three times last year, including a 59-55 victory in the semi-finals of the conference tournament.

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