U women come alive in second half, pound Wildcats

The U women’s basketball team overcame a slow first half start by exploding past Weber State 40-19 in the second period en route to a 65-38 victory Wednesday night.

Seniors Shona Thorburn and Julie Larsen stepped in as Kim Smith had a tough night shooting.

“We don’t expect Kim to score 20 every night, although we like it when she does,” Thorburn said. “Everyone has bad shooting nights, and when that happens other people need to step up around her.”

Thorburn led all scorers with 15 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out six assists, while Larsen scored 13 points for the Utes.

It was a back and forth contest in the first half that had 10 lead changes and five ties.

Alhough Utah struggled to get their shots to fall in the first half-shooting just 27 percent (9-33)-strong defense and smart play helped them to a 25-19 lead at the break.

The Utes forced 10 Wildcats turnovers in the first half, while only turning it over four times themselves and pulling down 12 offensive rebounds.

The Utes blew open the game immediately in the second half by scoring 16 unanswered points, jumping to a 41-19 lead with 13:57 left to play.

“We were running the ball more so we had more open shots early,” Thorburn said. “They were wide open shots and they were just falling for us.”

The fast second half start was enough for Utah to slowly pull away, and beat their in-state rivals by a 27-point margin.

“Things get easy when you make shots,” head coach Elaine Elliott said.

Freshman guard Morgan Warburton led all bench players for the Utes with seven rebounds and five points in 25 minutes as she contended against her older sister, Chelsey.

“She makes me want to play harder,” Warburton said. “I’ve learned a lot from her. We played a lot together in high school. It’s fun to play against each other.”

Junior Laura Porter was the only Wildcat to score in double figures, as she finished with 11 points. Sara Tuomi also chipped in nine points and seven rebounds for Weber State.

The Utes will look for a four-game sweep on their home stand Saturday as they host the Gonzaga Bulldogs at 3:00 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.

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