U women look to kick some Az-tecs

In an effort to remain tied for the regular season Mountain West Conference title, the U women’s basketball team hits the road for a 7 p.m. battle with San Diego State Thursday night in Cox Arena.

The Utes (21-6, 10-2 MWC) are guaranteed of winning at least a share of the conference title if they win their final two games of the season. But the Aztecs (8-17, 2-10 MWC) would love to play the role of spoiler.

Traditionally a conference doormat, SDSU proved it could pose a threat to MWC powers in its first conference game of the season. In that game, the Aztecs took down preseason conference favorite UNLV 76-60 and jumped out to a 1-0 conference record.

Since then the Aztecs have only won one game in their last nine, but the Utes know better than to overlook them.

“San Diego State is going to come out ready to play-they have nothing to lose,” said U point guard Shona Thorburn, who scored 15 points in an early February contest between the two schools.

The Utes won that game on the merit of huge first half, but the Aztecs showed they could play with the Utes in the second half. After putting up only 11 points in the first half, SDSU recovered to outscore the Utes 41-29 in the second half. The Aztec’s big second half was enough to let the Utes know that Thursday night might not be a gimme.

“[SDSU] is a good, athletic team,” Thorburn said. “They’re going to come out prepared, and they will be gunning for us. So we will have to be ready.”

SDSU is led by guards Michelle Elliott and Michelle Strawberry, both of whom had good games the last time they faced Utah. Elliott, the Aztecs’ scoring leader, put up 14 points against the Utes and Strawberry scored 13 points.

As the Utes are well aware, going on the road to play the Aztecs will be even more challenging than playing them at home.

“People always shoot better in their home gym,” Thorburn said.

U head coach Elaine Elliott said conference road games are always dangerous, regardless of how many wins the opponent has.

“If you don’t know that going on the road to play a conference game can be a problem, you don’t know anything about college athletics,” Elliott said.

After playing the Aztecs, the Utes head to Las Vegas to wrap up their regular season with a Saturday afternoon game against the UNLV Rebels (15-11, 6-6 MWC).

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