Seniors step up to lead Utes over Cougs

The three seniors on the U women’s basketball team ended their regular-season rivalry career against BYU with a win-a big one.

Combining for more than half of the team’s points, assists and rebounds Kim Smith, Shona Thorburn and Julie Larsen seemed to put the game on their shoulders and carry the team to an improbably lopsided victory against a team that had previously lost only once all season.

“The state of Utah gets so hopped up for it,” Thorburn said. “Every team in our conference is great and you have to get up for every game. But (for) this one, so many people are behind you that you don’t want to disappoint them and it gives you that much more incentive and it’s that much more awesome to get a win.”

During their four-year careers, the seniors have dominated BYU, winning nine of their last 11 and four of the last five.

“It’s a neat atmosphere to play in. It’s a neat rivalry, it’s nice to end it right here and go out with a win,” Smith said.

During their first meeting of the season, the Cougars stole a victory with a last-second shot to topple the Utes on their home court. But the U wouldn’t let it come to that on Wednesday.

“It’s always been a tough game and it’s always gone down to the wire,” Thorburn said. “After losing to them on our home floor, it’s a nice way to end with a win.”

The BYU fans grew frustrated with Kim Smith’s accuracy, as the three-time Conference Player of the Year shot 8-of-11 from the field as the crowd shouted, “does she ever miss?”

“Kim played great tonight. She’s a competitor and I’m glad she’s graduating. It will be a nice thing to see her leave,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said.

This is the first conference loss for BYU, which entered the game ranked No. 18 in the nation.

“This year, (BYU) has been playing really well,” Larsen said. “To come out a beat ’em and have it as their first (conference loss) of the season is even better.”

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