Utah women begin homestand against undefeated Oregon State

The U women’s basketball team returns to action at home tonight when it takes on the Oregon State Beavers at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes are coming off a two-game road trip, where they already faced two Pacific-10 opponents, Washington and Arizona. After losing its first game of the year in Seattle to the Huskies, 63-56, Utah rebounded with a 66-63 win over the Wildcats in Tucson, Ariz.

Now the Utes will play four straight home games, beginning with Oregon State tonight and ending with Gonzaga on Dec. 10, before heading to the Duel in the Desert Tournament in Las Vegas.

The Beavers have beaten Montana State, Pacific and Drake in their first three games.

In those games, senior forward Kim Butler has been their most consistent threat.

She has averaged 17.3 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 54 percent (21-39).

In their most recent victory over Drake last Saturday, Butler (18 points), Mandy Close (16 points) and Anita Rivera (17 points) all scored in double-digits for the Beavers.

After losing to the Huskies on Nov. 23, the Utes decided to go with a smaller lineup against Arizona, and it paid off.

“We’ve struggled so mightily in the post positions,” Utah head coach Elaine Elliott said. “We have not shown any ability to use our taller post players to our advantage against smaller teams. We went to a smaller lineup and got good effort.”

The new lineup allowed increased playing time for Marie Warner, Heidi Carlsen and Julie Larsen. Larsen went on to have her best game of the season, scoring all 12 of her points in the second half.

“I hadn’t been shooting well,” Larsen said. “I kept shooting, and I guess they finally started to fall.”

The three went on to combine for 34 points, 27 of which came in the second half, when the Utes outscored the Wildcats 42-36.

The Utes will need senior Shona Thorburn to improve her shooting if they want to have success on their four-game homestand.

In the Utes first three games, Thorburn is shooting just 23 percent (7-30) from the field. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

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