Women’s basketball in search of first win

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The U women’s basketball team, which is off to only its third 0-2 start in program history, will look to pick up its first victory of the season tonight when the Utes challenge UVSC in Orem.

Utah, which has never dropped its first three games, will take on a hot Wolverine club that has kicked off the young season 2-0, and most recently posted its first-ever W over an instate D-1 team when the Wolverines subjected Utah State to a 68-60 defeat.

The Utes will have their hands full as they attempt to slow down UVSC sophomore center Robyn Fairbanks, who is averaging 28 points and eight rebounds per outing.

Chief among Utah’s concerns is turnovers–the Utes threw the ball away 23 times in Monday’s home loss to Fresno State.

Head coach Elaine Elliott hopes that emphasizing the importance of keeping possession of the ball will cut back on giveaways.

“(We need to) make sure, as coaches, we’re doing a better job of making sure taking care of (the ball) means more,” Elliott said, adding that players will be held more accountable for mistakes.

Utah will utilize the skills of freshman Halie Sawyer, who has come on surprisingly strong for the Utes in recent weeks. The Panguitch native, who initially had trouble adjusting to the high level of collegiate competition, has been a welcome surprise for Elliott.

Sawyer grabbed eight rebounds in her first collegiate game at Gonzaga and scored nine points against Fresno State.

Sawyer comes off the bench, but at 25 minutes per game, the power forward ranks third on the team in minutes played.

“(Sawyer) really struggled early in practices with the group,” Elliott said. “I think she really had some doubts and had some trouble just picking things up and then, all of a sudden, it’s just like a light went on,” Elliott said.

“Literally, all of a sudden, one week, she got it and she just really made a huge jump, and from that time on, she’s proven that she belongs,” Elliott said.

Sawyer is a power forward that is comfortable playing on the perimeter, Elliott said.

The Utes will be led by sophomore Morgan Warburton, who leads the team in both scoring and assists, and fellow sophomore Joh-Teena Filipe, who scored a career-high 12 points and grabbed nine boards in Utah’s loss to Fresno State.

Utah and UVSC, though just a 45-minute drive away, have played just once before. In 2004, the Utes prevailed over the Wolverines 88-66 at the Huntsman Center during UVSC’s inaugural year as a D-1 program.

The game tips off at 7 p.m.

Kim Peterson

Morgan Warburton drives to the basket through Fresno State’s defense Monday at the Huntsman Center.