Mitchell breaks assist record

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

Some days, everything just seems to click. The U women’s basketball team and point guard Leilani Mitchell enjoyed one of those days Saturday when Mitchell shattered the single-game assists record in a win over Fresno State.

Monica Starrett set the Utah single-game assist record during the 1981-1982 season when she handed out 15 assists. Saturday, Mitchell matched Starrett’s record with 15 assists of her own — and that was just the first half. She finished with 18 assists to set the new school record after just seven games as a Ute.

“We just took advantage of their defense,” said Mitchell, who also scored 16 points. “We knew they were going to be guarding us full-court, and they were going to leave some shooters open, so it’s just a matter of finding them and taking care of the ball.”

The Utes (5-2) pulled away from the Bulldogs (0-5) early in the contest and took a 21-point lead into halftime. Utah went on to win 82-58 on the road and extended its winning streak to four games.

The Utes shot 56 percent from the field in the game and 60 percent in the opening half. It was that hot shooting that helped Mitchell, a Kennewick, Wash., native, earn a spot in the history books.

It was a well-rounded outing for the Utes. All five starters scored in double figures. Morgan Warburton chipped in 16 points while Kalee Whipple added another 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Post players Katie King and Jessica Perry helped Utah’s cause with another 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Other than the season opener when the Utes routed UC Irvine by 41 points, the Fresno State game was Utah’s most dominating effort of the young season.

“Finally, we didn’t have to gut a game out, we just had to put a team away,” said associate head coach Carolyn DeHoff, who detailed what was said during the halftime pep talk. “Now, this is something new to us. Let’s see what we can do about putting this team away. Jump on ’em early and see what happens.”

Utah tried to put the game out of reach early in the second half, but Fresno State had some fight left. Although their effort was not enough to make much of a run, the Bulldogs made a stronger showing in the second half. They were ultimately outscored by three points during the period and 24 in the game.

It wasn’t just the Utes’ offense that found a groove Saturday afternoon — their defensive effort wasn’t bad, either. Utah held Fresno State to 34 percent shooting from the field.

The Bulldogs have not fared well against Mountain West Conference teams so far this season. They have also gone up against BYU and TCU. The Cougars blasted Fresno State by 19 and TCU won by 12.

The Utes continue their California road trip Monday when they head to Los Angeles for a game with USC.

Last year, the Women of Troy (3-2) were topped by Utah at the Huntsman Center, 70-66. Utah is 2-4 all-time against USC.

Tipoff is set for Monday at 8 p.m. MST.

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Tyler Cobb

Jessica Perry scored 10 points in the Utes’ 82-58 road win against Fresno State Saturday.