Ute women cruise to victory: Smith and Thorburn combine for 41 points as Utes down Lady Bulldogs 86-57 in first exhibition game of the season

By and

The U women’s basketball team kicked off the 2005-2006 season with an 86-57 exhibition victory over the Montana-Western Lady Bulldogs Thursday night.

Seniors Kim Smith and Shona Thorburn didn’t show any signs of rust in the Utes’ first competition of the year. Smith led all scorers with 24 points, and was just one rebound short of a double-double. Thorburn chipped in 17 points and collected eight assists.

“It was a good game,” Smith said. “Defensively we need to improve, but offensively we were doing some good things.”

Smith helped ignite the Utes early in the first half, as she drilled her first four shots-all threes-to hold off an early surge from the Lady Bulldogs.

It seemed that anytime Montana-Western tried to close the gap, Utah would respond with a big play.

The Utes were up 12-10 early in the first half, before Kim Smith knocked down her third three of the game.

Just moments later, when the Utes held a 19-12 lead, Thorburn buried a three that sparked a 28-13 run that helped the Utes to a 47-25 lead at the half.

The Utes were able to have every player on the roster contribute; as they slowly pulled away to an 86-57 win.

“It’s a great chance for us to finally work together instead of against each other,” Smith said.

Freshman Morgan Warburton came off the bench to score 10 points in her first game as a Ute.

Junior Heidi Carlsen and sophomore Marie Warner also made their presences felt, scoring nine and seven points, respectively.

The Lady Bulldogs were led by point guard Megan Schmitz, who hit 4-of-7 three-point shots on her way to a team-high 16 points.

Despite the big win, U head coach Elaine Elliott saw some problems the team needs to improve upon as it prepares for the regular season.

“I really do not like where we are defensively right now at all,” she said. “The second half I saw a better commitment to it. I saw a much better attempt and, honestly, we’ll get better. We do have to tend to our defense right now.”

The Utes were also unable to utilize their obvious size advantage, as they struggled to score points below the basket after winning most rebound battles.

“I like our talent,” Elliott said. “We do have to get better at what we’re doing but I like my talent. I like the possibilities.”

The Utes will get another chance to gear up for the regular season Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., when they will host Northwest Sports for their final exhibition game at the Huntsman Center.

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