Women’s basketball prevails in double-OT

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The U women’s basketball team has never opened a season by losing its first three games–a media guide factoid that no Ute player wanted to disrupt.

Thanks to an unforgiving rim that spat out what would have been the game-winning shot for UVSC, the Utes can claim for another year that they’ve never dropped their first three contests, as they improved to 1-2 Friday night in Orem.

The Utes held a 65-59 edge with a little more than a minute remaining in double overtime, but UVSC’s Asumi Nakayama hit two long threes that breathed life into the Wolverines’ comeback.

With the clock winding down, Utah held a 70-68 advantage but UVSC had possession of the ball. A smothering Utah defense forced the Wolverines to hurl up a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer. The ball rattled around and popped out and Utah escaped with the victory.

It was a game of runs. The Utes came out strong, racking up a 12-point lead in the first half and taking a 10-point lead into the break.

But the pesky Wolverines clawed their way back in the second half, making a run of their own when Utah got a bit too casual. UVSC won the half by 10 and sent the game into overtime.

“We thought we were going to win (when we had a double-digit lead),” said U sophomore Morgan Warburton. “We just wanted to coast and they didn’t want to; they knew they had a chance if they really wanted to work hard for it.”

Head coach Elaine Elliott agreed. “They picked up their deficit because they played harder than we did,” she said, adding, “That was disturbing.”

Warburton credited a “loss of focus” and “loss of aggressiveness” for the reasons the Utes allowed UVSC to come barreling back.

A modified lineup proved to be a key adjustment for Utah. Elliott moved Warburton from the point guard spot to the wing for a lot of the game. At the point guard position, Warburton often feels the need to “overplay,” Elliott said. Relinquishing duties of bringing the ball up-court allowed the talented sophomore to shine as she scored 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting. The point guard-turned-shooting guard also grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.

Such an adjustment would not have been possible had it not been for the poised play of freshman Hennesea Tokumura, a backup point guard who has proven to be competent and stable at the position.

“She’s calming,” said Elliott of the 5-foot-4 Tokumura. “She’s a (true) point guard. The kids feel that and they’re more comfortable (than they were with Warburton at the point).”

Tokumura, who pitched in with eight points, five assists, two steals and several hustle plays, probably secured an important place in the rotation as Elliott is beginning to prefer Warburton on the wing. The only other point guard on the team, freshman Brette Ulsaker, is injured.

Freshman starter Kalee Whipple delivered a career-first double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Jessica Perry snatched 14 boards, and in just 13 minutes of play and Marie Warner added eight points, five rebounds and two assists.

Next up for Utah is a tournament in Eugene, Ore., where the Utes will go up against Pittsburgh and either Boise State or Oregon.

Kim Peterson

Kalee Whipple fights a Fresno State opponent for a loose ball last week. The Utes squeezed by UVSC on Friday with a 70-68 double overtime win at UVSC.