U women cruise past Air Force

Some good news you can control, some you can’t. The Ute women’s basketball team (19-6, 8-2 MWC) got a little of both Saturday afternoon.

Not only did they bounce back from last weekend’s loss with a 74-45 rout of Air Force (7-17, 2-9 MWC), but New Mexico-the team that took out the Utes last week-was upset by BYU. The Lobo loss dropped them into a tie with the Utes in the race for the MWC regular-season championship.

“It was a big win for us,” Ute guard Shona Thorburn said. “We’re still in the race [to be] regular season champs.”

Due to beating the Utes twice during the season, the Lobos own the tie-breaker. But being tied with four games to go puts the Utes in a much better position than they expected after last weekend’s setback.

The Utes never let the Falcons in the game. Led by Thorburn’s seven straight points, the U took jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back.

The biggest lead of the half came at the end, when Lana Sitterud hit a three pointer just before the buzzer to give the Utes a 37-17 advantage heading to the locker room.

The second half was more of the same, as the Falcons couldn’t get a decent run going.

A Heidi Carlsen jumper gave the Utes their biggest lead of the game at 55-23 with 12:16 to go.

Coach Elaine Elliott made good use of her bench the rest of the way, as the Utes cruised to the 29-point final margin.

The Utes shot 63 percent from the field, a stat that made their coach pretty happy.

“We finally shot the ball again tonight,” Elliott said. “When you hit shots, things get easier.”

The Utes were actually better from outside, making 12 of 19 three-pointers, good for a 63.2 shooting percentage. The Falcons had a tough time making it from anywhere, hitting only 29.3 percent of their shots.

Thorburn led a balanced Ute attack, garnering 14 points, nine assists and four rebounds. Overall, the Utes had five players with nine or more points, including three with 11.

“When we get everyone chipping in a little bit, we’re pretty good,” Elliott said, praising the team effort.

With the Air Force breather over, the Utes must get up for another big game. Archrival BYU comes to the Huntsman Center Thursday, sitting in striking distance with a 7-3 conference mark. The stakes rise even further, with BYU’s surprising conquest of New Mexico.

“Every team in our conference is dangerous,” Thorburn said.

“It will be a fun game.”

Tip-off for BYU is set for 7 p.m. Thursday in the Huntsman Center.

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