Fifth-ranked Stanford narrowly overcomes Utes

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The U women’s basketball team and their small, but electric, crowd could almost taste a win over one of the elite programs in women’s college basketball on Sunday. But a victory against No. 5 Stanford slipped away in the final minute of double overtime and the Utes fell, 81-77.

With two minutes to go, the Utes held a six-point edge. But a turnover, a missed free throw and Stanford’s late-game heroics cost the Utes dearly, and the team had to settle for a moral victory instead of one for the win-loss column.

“I’m so proud of this team right now,” said Morgan Warburton, who scored 20 points. “A part of us is sad, but I’m so proud of everything we did because this team did not give up. That is the difference between this year and last year.”

Last year, the Stanford Cardinal throttled the Utes 74-47, dominating them from start to finish. This year, it was a different story. The Utes went toe-to-toe with Stanford and were down by one at halftime.

Speedy point guard Leilani Mitchell drove into the lane and converted several underhand layups to keep the Utes ahead for much of the first half. Mitchell, who played all 50 minutes, finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Going into the season, the Utes knew their guards were good. Now they have reason to believe their post players aren’t too shabby, either.

Katie King, who transferred to the U from SLCC, played bigger than her 6-foot-1 frame. King had 17 points and 14 rebounds while playing 44 minutes, the second most on the team after Mitchell.

“King knew what she needed to do, and she didn’t hold back,” Warburton said. “This is probably the biggest game she’s ever played. She did amazing.”

Utah had a two-point edge and possession of the ball with time winding down in regulation. The Cardinal fouled Utah’s Kalee Whipple on the inbounds play, putting the sophomore forward at the line for two shots that could’ve put the game away with 12 seconds to go.

But Whipple, who had 17 points and seven rebounds, made one of two free throws, leaving the door cracked open for the Cardinal.

With one second to go, Stanford’s Melanie Murphy hit a rainbow 3-point shot to tie the score and force overtime.

The Utes trailed by two in the first overtime when Mitchell decided to take things into her own hands. With 0.2 seconds to go, the senior drove past the Stanford defense and sank an off-balance layup to force double overtime.

But in double overtime, Stanford’s big bruiser in the middle, Jayne Appel, continued to score at will. Appel finished with 30 points and 20 rebounds, and Stanford outscored Utah 10-6.

“Stanford’s an amazing team,” Warburton said. “But at least we know that we can play at the national level now.”

The Cardinals started the year ranked No. 7 and No. 8 in The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, respectively. After knocking off No. 3 Rutgers, Stanford climbed to No. 5.

“We had the right game plan,” Utah head coach Elaine Elliott said. “Our kids were confident going in. We believed we were pretty good early. I also think we’re going to get better.”

The Utes are 1-1. Next up for the team is a trip to Hawaii, where they’re scheduled to play in a tournament that begins Nov. 22.

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Teresa Getten

Katie King looks to attack the basket amid Stanford defense. King finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds.