Now that’s more like it

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned blowout to send a team’s confidence soaring. That’s exactly what the U women’s basketball team needed, and got, Wednesday night as the Utes clobbered in-state foe Weber State in Ogden to improve to 2-4 on the season.

The lively Utah team that stepped onto the hardwood tonight was nothing like the sluggish version that had taken the court in a recent home game against Fresno State. The Utes were fired up and seemed both comfortable and relaxed, but also aggressive.

“We have this energy about us (that wasn’t there before),” said Jessica Perry, who chipped in with a game-high 17 points. “I’m tired of losing and I think everyone else is on the same page.”

It was as simple as that. They were tired of losing. So the Utes stepped it up a notch and destroyed a good Weber State team 77-44.

Perry played a key role in the victory. The junior, who started consistently for the Utes during her freshman and sophomore campaigns, this time was relegated to the bench, where the 6-foot-3 forward has been sitting at the onset of the last few games. It’s unfamiliar territory for a player who is expected to be a dynamic contributor for Utah. Out there on the court in her place? A freshman.

“I think I haven’t been playing as well as I can, and they realized that, too, so they’re going to play the players that are playing well,” Perry said. “I don’t care if I start as long as we win.”

Whether she’s willing to admit it or not, getting benched must have irked the experienced junior a wee bit. The next game, she came out with excitement in her eyes that had yet to be seen this season as she went on to torch the Wildcats for 17 points, five rebounds and two steals, by far her best outing of the season.

“(Perry’s) not been doing what we think she could and we just wanted her to know that we needed her,” said Elliott of her not-so-subtle motivational technique.

“And I thought she really responded tonight and had her best game.”

Not only is Perry back on her game, but the whole team seems to be-or at least it was Wednesday. The woes that have weighed heavily on the Utes all season, such as turnovers and poor shooting, seemed to have floated away into the freezing Ogden night. Utah has averaged more than 20 giveaways a game but last night the Utes gave up the ball a mere 10 times. And their shooting travails were old news, as well, as the Utes shot 47.7 percent from the field, including seven-of-17 shots from beyond the three-point arc on their way to a season-high 77 points.

Weber State was able to keep the score respectable for about 15 minutes when the Utes held a 29-21 advantage, but from then on, everything started bouncing Utah’s way and the Utes pulled further and further away.

Sophomore forward Joh-Teena Filipe was among those leading the Utes to victory as she earned the first double-double of her career with 14 points and 11 rebounds. She also nailed all six of her free throw attempts.

The Utes will try to keep their winning streak alive on Friday when they take on Long Beach State at the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m.