Utes grab TCU by the horns

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

It was a night that was all about Elaine Elliott–her first home game since earning her 500th victory–and under no circumstances was her team going to sour the celebration by letting a win slip away.

Even if the opponent was TCU–a team that has unmercifully throttled its last five opponents and risen to No. 23 nationally.

But TCU never stood a chance. Not on this night. Not with distinguished former players delivering videotaped misty-eyed tributes to Elliott on the Jumbo-Tron during timeouts. Not with the first 500 fans to arrive wearing free T-shirts commemorating Elliott’s milestone. It was a Utah kind of a night–and the Horned Frogs had no idea what they were up against.

The positive momentum with which the Utes began the game carried them to an 11-point win over a team accustomed to destroying its competition.

“I think TCU is the most talented team in the league with their athleticism and their skills,” Elliott said. “Our kids just kept their poise. They’ve grown up emotionally and it’s really helped them to perform and to stay together.”

After trailing 4-0 early, Utah surged into the lead, pulling ahead by as much as 10 in the first half.

Utah took a 33-23 edge into the break, but TCU wouldn’t let the Utes put them away, narrowing the gap to four with 10 minutes to go.

But Utah’s offensive dynamos came on strong, keeping the score just out of TCU’s reach as the Utes pushed the lead to 14. Four Utes finished in double figures, including last week’s Mountain West Conference Player of the Week Morgan Warburton, who led the Utes with 18 points and five assists in a convincing campaign to repeat with the weekly conference honor.

Warburton explained what is behind her improved play in recent weeks. “I was sort of tense,” she said of the way she started games. “Now I come out relaxed.”

Jessica Perry, who struggled offensively early in the season, added 15 points. Focusing on defense has pulled Perry out of her slump and into a vital role on the Utes as both a scorer and rebounder.

“Once I go hard on defense, my offense will just come,” she explained.

Kalee Whipple contributed 15 points, and Marie Warner added 10.

Joh-Teena Filipe ruled the boards with 14 rebounds and added nine points.

“Coach does so much for us. What we can do for her is on the court,” Perry said.

Utah improved to 5-0 in league play while TCU dropped to 3-1.

Tyler Cobb

Despite being taken out early in the second half with a bloody nose, Morgan Warburton scored 18 points to help the Utes win 72-61 over TCU last night at the Huntsman Center.