U women go down at the buzzer

After a back-and-forth game, the pendulum swung away from the Ute women’s basketball team at the last second Saturday, as the Utes fell 61-60 to BYU (12-1, 2-0 MWC) at the Huntsman Center. It was BYU’s first win in Salt Lake City since 2002.

Cougar guard Mallary Gillespie tipped in a BYU miss as time expired, giving the Cougars the upset win over No. 22 Utah (9-4, 0-2 MWC).

“It was a tough way to lose,” Ute senior Kim Smith said. “But all it’s going to do is make us hungry, so we’ll get something out of it. It’s a frustrating start (to the conference season), but at the same time, I know we’re going to turn it around now.”

Neither team could gain a hold on the momentum, as the lead changed hands 12 times in the second half and eight times in the final four minutes.

With seven seconds on the clock, the Utes trailed by one. But Julie Larsen drew a foul in the paint and went to the line with a chance to get the lead back. Larsen drained both free throws, tilting the momentum back in the U’s favor.

After a timeout, BYU’s Ambrosia Anderson took the ball down the court and missed a jump shot with Utah’s Shona Thorburn applying pressure. But the bounce on the rebound went right to Gillespie, who tipped in the ball as the horn sounded.

“It was a really great game,” Ute head coach Elaine Elliott said. “It could have been anybody’s game at any time. It went all the way down to the last play, and somebody wins and somebody loses.”

Thorburn was unusually quiet on the scoring front, finishing with two points and 10 assists. In her stead, Smith and Larsen picked up the slack, finishing with 14 and 11 points, respectively.

Anderson led BYU with 13 points and Dani Kubik almost earned a double-double, finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Even though the Utes came in ranked in the top-25 and were picked by the media to win the MWC, Elliott refused to call the loss to BYU an upset.

“Nobody knows what they are talking about at the start of the year,” Elliott said. “There is absolutely no way of knowing what a team’s sort of character will be, what the differences of leadership from year to year will be. I don’t care who you pick first, I don’t care who you pick last.”

After opening the conference slate with two-straight losses, the Utes will have an uphill climb to claim their expected regular season title.

Their next shot at climbing back on the winning side of the ledger comes Thursday when they head to California for a match-up with San Diego State.

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