Utes hope to evade lassos

After two games on the road, the U women’s basketball team will be back in the comforts of the Huntsman Center Thursday night, where it will host the Wyoming Cowgirls.

While the Utes have struggled on the road this season (5-4, 2-2 MWC), they have been tough to beat at home, where they have gone 8-1 (the single loss coming by one point from BYU).

“It makes a huge difference (being on the road); it’s not as comfortable in another environment,” Ute senior Kim Smith said. “It’s more comfortable at home when you know the rims and the crowd. It’s something that we have to learn how to do.”

Most recently, the Utes had a four-game winning streak snapped last Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas, where they fell to TCU 69-56.

The Utes turned the ball over 21 times and only got to the free-throw line eight times, while allowing the Horned Frogs 28 attempts at the charity stripe.

“We didn’t take advantage of things that we could have, so it was disappointing,” Smith said. “We didn’t penetrate at all, and we didn’t break them down as much. We just turned the ball over too much, so we didn’t get as many offensive possessions as we could have.”

Smith was the only Ute in double figures, scoring 24 points while grabbing 16 rebounds.

The Cowgirls are coming off conference victories over Colorado State and San Diego State and will seek to snap their current 28-game losing streak to Utah, something they came very close to achieving late last season in Laramie, Wyo.

It was a tight game from start to finish, featuring 26 lead changes and 14 ties.

The Utes and Cowgirls finished tied 35-35 at the half, and then once again finished tied 65-65 at the end of regulation, thanks to a layup by Smith with one second left to play.

The teams were forced into a second overtime after Wyoming’s Ashley Elliott hit a layup with 14 seconds remaining in the first overtime, tying the game at 74.

Finally, in the second overtime, the Utes were able to hold off the Cowgirls and escape with an 82-79 victory.

“They’re a very strong team,” Smith said. “Right now we’re in a four-way tie with them for fourth place (in the MWC), so we have to start picking up the wins.”

This year, sophomores Hanna Zavecz and Jodi Bolerjack lead the Cowgirls. Zavecz averages 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while Bolerjack averages 13.1 points a game.

The teams are set to square off tonight at 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.

[email protected]