Women’s Hoops: Utes go streaking (12/18)

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

It’s safe to say that Saint Mary’s gameplan wasn’t executed successfully against the Utes at the Huntsman Center Wednesday night.

The Gaels (6-7) dug themselves into a 22-point hole during the first 12 minutes and spent the rest of the game trying to overcome that deficit. In the end, the hole was too deep and the Utes (8-3) cruised to an 85-59 win.

For the Utes, the opening minutes were textbook basketball. They started out with a quick 7-0 lead and later found themselves up 35-13.

“I think it’s kind of a confidence booster,” said Utah forward Katie King of the quick start. “Taking a big lead boosts our confidence for the rest of the game.”

But sometimes those big early leads can be difficult to sustain once it seems like the game is a blowout.

Sure enough, the Gaels made a run, narrowing the gap to 12 less than three minutes into the second half, but Utah never allowed Saint Mary’s back within single digits.

Utah didn’t let itself get flustered during the Gaels’ surge, and over the next seven minutes, Elaine Elliot’s team went back to business and pushed the lead to 27 points.

Ute sophomore Kalee Whipple buried a pair of 3-point shots during that stretch and finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

“It’s one of those (situations) where you kind of have to come back to realization after you’ve already gone up by so much,” said King who had eight points and eight rebounds. “You have to be like, ‘Oh, we’re not up by as much as we thought we were so we need to come back down to that level of focus and get back into our style of play.'”

The Utes, led by Morgan Warburton’s 20-point effort, fended off Saint Mary’s run. Senior point guard Leilani Mitchell chipped in 15 points and eight assists, while senior center Jessica Perry had a strong showing with nine points and six rebounds. All nine active Ute players scored.

Next up for Utah is a game against Weber State on Friday at the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m.

While a good portion of the student body gets to kick back for a couple of weeks before classes get underway in 2008, the U women’s basketball team will receive no such vacation.

They’ll have about enough time to head home, open some presents, kiss their grandmas and then it’s back to the grindstone.

The players have four days off starting Dec. 22 before reporting back on Dec. 26 to prepare for a road game against Long Beach State on Dec. 29.

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Lennie Mahler

Morgan Warburton led the Utes win a 20-point effort Wednesday night as Utah beat St. Mary’s 85-59