Ute women trample Jacksonville State in season opener

Kim Smith led the way for the Ute women’s basketball team on Saturday, scoring 21 points and grabbing six rebounds as the Utes won their season opener against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 83-46 in front of 1,174 spectators at the Huntsman Center.

It didn’t take Utah long to escape any feasible threat, as it went on a 16-0 run early in the first half to provide itself with a comfortable 28-7 lead with 8:09 remaining in the first half. The Gamecocks made a strong second-half charge to pull within 16 points (50-34), but Heidi Carlsen and Marie Warner each hit three-pointers in a 14-0 run that gave the Utes a 64-34 lead.

The late Utah surge ended any chance for a Jacksonville State comeback, and the Utes glided to victory from there.

Shona Thorburn, Heidi Carlsen and Joh-Teena Filipe all scored in double figures for Utah.

Thorburn scored 10 points, passed out eight assists and pulled down six rebounds. Carlsen remained red-hot from the outside, converting all three of her three-point tries in an 11-point effort. She also dished out seven assists.

Filipe, a freshman, chipped in 11 points for the Utes.

Defense and depth proved to work to the advantage once again for Utah.

“It has been a focus this year in the preseason, being a young team, to set our tone defensively,” Ute senior Kim Smith said.

“I think that’s what we did tonight. We are really getting into the gaps and trying to get a few more steals this year.”

Ten Utes played nine or more minutes, and they held the Gamecocks to 30.5 percent shooting from the field while causing 23 turnovers.

“We are a little more aggressive this year with defense,” Utah head coach Elaine Elliott said. “We are a little deeper, and I feel like we have enough experience that we can ask them to do a few more things-a little zone and a little trapping. Our depth is definitely a plus.”

Senior forward Rebecca Haynes led the Gamecocks, as she was the only Jacksonville State player to score in double figures, with 15 points.

The Utes will now prepare for their first road trip of the season, as they get set to take on a couple of Pacific-10 Conference teams.

They’ll travel to Seattle first for a showdown against the Washington Huskies this Wednesday night, followed by a Saturday match-up against the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, Ariz.

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