Thorburn breaks assist record as Utes pummel Rebels

They might as well just leave the Utah record books open, as yet another record was shattered Wednesday, and this time, it wasn’t Kim Smith.

Ute senior Shona Thorburn broke the U career assist record Wednesday night, surpassing Alli Bills’ total of 612 assists, as the Utes cruised past UNLV, 75-64.

Thorburn passed Bills in the first half when she hit Morgan Warburton under the basket for a quick bucket with 10:03 left in the first half, giving her the record-breaking 613th assist.

“I think it’s great,” Thorburn said. “It was a senior to a freshman who is going to take over the program.”

Just last week, Smith surpassed the Mountain West Conference career scoring record in the Utes’ win over Colorado State, and then became the career scoring leader at the U after passing Julie Krommenhoek (1994-1998) in last Saturday’s victory over Air Force.

As it was with Krommenhoek and Bills, the reigning MWC Co-Players of the Year have benefited from the success of their senior counterpart.

“Kim and I have a good playing relationship, we have a knack of knowing where each other are,” Thorburn said. “She knows I’m going to try to throw her the ball, and she’s a good cutter and shooter. We’ve both grown together by playing together, and understanding each other, which has helped us out, and it shows in our record.”

And their individual success has benefited the team, as they’ve led the Utes to a combined 94-27 record, winning at least 20 games in each of their four seasons at the U.

They were once again taking care of business Wednesday night, as Smith scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Thorburn tacked on six points, six rebounds and nine assists.

The Utes took a commanding 39-24 lead at the break, but allowed the Rebels to go on a 16-5 run to start the second half, which pulled the Rebels within four points of Utah, 44-40.

But the Utes countered the Rebels’ comeback with an 11-point run of their own, to take a 59-44 lead with 8:04 to play.

The Rebels made another brief comeback, but the Utes held them off to remain undefeated during the month of February (7-0).

Senior Julie Larsen added 16 points, and Heidi Carlsen chipped in 14 points in the victory.

After the game, both Thorburn and Smith were applauded and awarded for their achievements, and Utah head coach Elaine Elliott spoke to the crowd of their achievements.

“What will reach all of us forever is, in fact, the incredible teammates that they are, leaders that they are and student athletes that they are,” Elliott said. “They’re representative of our school and program. There is no better.”

Elliott also spoke highly of Thorburn’s record-breaking performance.

“For her to come through and do what she’s done by distributing the ball and making the people around her better-there’s nobody better that’s been here, and her record indicates that,” Elliott told the crowd. “We’re so proud.”

What makes Thorburn’s feat even more impressive is that she wasn’t at the point guard position until last season, when she shifted from the shooting guard position.

She has also been a major scoring threat in her tenure with the Utes, and is currently in the No. 6 spot in career points at Utah with 1,610.

The Utes will have more than a week to prepare to avenge their only loss in their last 12 games, which occurred Jan. 28 at TCU.

They will get their shot at revenge on Thursday, March 2, when they host the Horned Frogs at the Huntsman Center at 7:00 p.m.