Senioritis

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

Although both Heidi Carlsen and Shauna Murphy knew that last night’s showdown with Montana could have been their last as Utes, neither player gave the subject much thought before the game.

“Negative thinking like that leads to negative actions,” Murphy said. “We were trying to be positive, so everything that came out of us was positive.”

Their think-no-evil strategy must have worked, because both Carlsen and Murphy were at the top of their games against the Lady Griz in Utah’s Women’s NIT victory Wednesday night. The two seniors played solid defense, made good decisions and avoided costly mistakes. In short, they did everything that a head coach could ask for.

“You’re always happy when that happens for kids,” U head coach Elaine Elliott said. “They worked hard to prepare themselves for a situation like this. They should be proud of themselves.”

As per custom, Carlsen drew the unsavory assignment of defending the opposition’s top scorer, which in Montana’s case was point guard Mandy Morales. But Carlsen, as fate would have it, was more than a match for Montana’s sensational sophomore, and held her to less than half of her scoring average.

“Stopping her was a big focus for us,” Carlsen said of Morales. “We played great team defense on her, so I can’t take all the credit.”

Although Carlsen’s defense was virtually flawless, it was her offensive production that got the Utah faithful out of their seats. With the Utes clinging to a two-point lead and the shot clock running down, Carlsen launched a prayer from half-court that extended the Utes’ lead to five and swung the momentum decidedly in their favor.

“When I let it go, I thought, ‘It looks good and it feels good, I hope it goes in,’ and it went in,” Carlsen said. “I got lucky.”

Murphy’s performance against the Lady Griz was no less dramatic. Filling in for an ailing Jessica Perry, Murphy had her biggest game of the season, scoring seven points and nine rebounds, most of which came in the second half.

“Elaine said before the game, ‘The following people need to be ready,’ and my name was called,” Murphy said. “At that point I knew that I was going to get a lot more playing time than usual.”

Murphy made the most of her minutes, especially on the defensive end. While patrolling the paint, she frequently clashed with Tamara Guardipee, Montana’s enormous center. Although Murphy was at an obvious disadvantage in terms of size, she held her own and played a part in several key defensive stops.

“She was a little bigger, a little stronger and a little taller than me,” Murphy said. “I just tried to make her take a 7-foot shot instead of a 2-foot shot.”

For Carlsen and Murphy, last night’s win guarantees them at least one more game as a part of the Utah women’s basketball program. Of course, they’re desperately trying not to think along those lines.

“I like to think of it as one more game in this uniform, which is awesome,” Carlsen said. “We’ve got nothing to lose, so we’re going to give it our all.”

Kim Peterson

Senior Shauna Murphy pulls down one of her nine rebounds in the Utes’ 78-70 win over Montana last night in the Huntsman Center.