U women to battle Boston College in Sweet-16 showdown

The U women’s basketball team will bring plenty of ammunition to its 9:30 p.m. Sweet-16 matchup with Boston College on Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M., and most of it comes in the form of seniors.

Ute seniors Shona Thorburn, Kim Smith and Julie Larsen have combined to be one of the most balanced and lethal trios in all of women’s basketball.

Thorburn ranks second in the nation in assists (7.3 per game), Smith is 19th in scoring (19.7 points per game), and Larsen is tops in the nation from beyond the arc (50.4 percent).

When the Utes take on the Eagles Saturday night, they’ll probably need all of them to be at the top of their game to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Although Boston College is only eighth-seeded, it is a lot better than its 21-11 overall record would lead you to believe.

Boston has played nine games against ranked opponents-seven of which were ranked in the top 10. In those games, it defeated Stanford, N.C. State, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

Senior forward Brooke Queenan leads the team with 14.9 points and eight rebounds per game, but it was junior guard Kindyll Dorsey who stole the show in the Eagles’ surprising upset of the first-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes Tuesday night.

Dorsey set a Boston College tournament record by knocking down six three-point shots, as she scored 24 points and helped the Eagles to get past Ohio State, 79-69.

“After watching them play so well against Ohio State, we’re not any more excited (to play a lower seed),” Thorburn said. “Whether we’re playing a No. 8 seed or a No. 1, it doesn’t make a difference.”

The Eagles brought a tough second-half defense that held the usually sharp-shooting Buckeyes to shoot just 37 percent from the field, which was enough for Boston College to shock Ohio State.

It was the first time a No. 1 seed lost before the Sweet 16 in eight years.

“We’ll need to take care of the ball,” Thorburn said. “Collectively, they’re good at team defense and creating turnovers.”

As for the Utes, they’ll especially need Thorburn to continue to perform at the electrifying rate she has been so far in the tournament.

Since the Utes’ first Mountain West Conference tournament game, Thorburn has averaged 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists.

“She’s just progressively improved her game throughout the season,” Utah head coach Elaine Elliott said. “Her best basketball has been played over the last month, without a doubt.”

Thorburn directed comebacks from double-digit deficits both against Middle Tennessee State and Arizona State.

“I’ll need to try to do what I’ve been doing every game so far,” Thorburn said. “Whether it’s shooting, rebounding or passing the ball, I’ve just got to keep playing hard.”

The Utes will also be watching Dorsey to make sure she doesn’t have an outing similar to the one she displayed against Ohio State.

“She’s a flat-out shooter,” Elliott said. “You can’t allow separation, you have to chase off screens and stay on the strong side. If you do the right things, they don’t get as many open looks.”

Saturday’s contest will be played on New Mexico’s home court-The Pit-so the Utes will be used to the surroundings.

“I always think that the more comfortable you are, usually the better the situation is,” Elliott said. “So not having to travel a long distance and being completely comfortable with the surroundings is better than going someplace new and far.”

The game will be aired live on ESPN2 at 9:30 p.m.