U women cruise past Falcons

The U women’s basketball team has never lost to Air Force. In fact, the average margin of victory in the series is more than 30 points. On Wednesday night, the Utes stretched that margin a little further.

Kim Smith poured in a season-high 27 points, while Julie Larsen added 19, leading four Utes in double figures as Utah annihilated the Falcons, 90-45.

After a slow, back-and-forth start by each team that included six lead changes and two ties within the first nine minutes of play, the Utes quickly took control of the game.

Smith got the early run going by drilling two quick three-pointers, pushing the Utes to a 22-13 advantage with 8:12 remaining in the first half.

Larsen then took over, scoring nine of the next 13 points for Utah, extending the lead to 35-17 with 3:55 left in the opening half.

Utah closed the half by outscoring the Falcons 26-2 in the final six minutes to take a commanding 51-19 lead into the locker room.

The Utes didn’t slow down in the second half.

Led by Smith and freshman Morgan Warburton, Utah jumped out early in the second half, outscoring the Falcons 15-6 in the first five minutes to jump to a 66-25 advantage.

Warburton and Smith each scored 10 points in the second period, and along with Larsen, they combined to shoot 95 percent (21-22) throughout the game, including a perfect 8-for-8 from three-point range.

“Things always feel good when you hit shots,” U head coach Elaine Elliott said.

The Utes finished the game with their largest lead, as they glided to the easy win.

“We just keep improving,” Smith said. “That’s what we have to do. I think we’re starting to get on a roll now.”

The Utes three seniors, Smith, Larsen, and Shona Thorburn combined for 56 points-11 more than the entire Falcons squad-showing their experience advantage over the young Air Force lineup.

“They started out slow statistically in the conference games,” Elliott said. “They’ve got good stuff ahead of them. It’s nice to see them starting to get comfortable and enjoy this last stretch. They’ve been doing a good job for us.”

Junior center Jacki Novak led the Falcons with 12 points, while Alecia Steele grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss.

The Utes will be back in action Saturday at 8:00 p.m., as they travel to Las Vegas to take on the UNLV Rebels.

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