Women’s Hoops: Current win streak is Elliott’s longest

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

Remember the 2006 U women’s basketball team that suited up two WNBA-bound players and made it to the Elite Eight? Or the 2001 team that went to the Sweet Sixteen?

Although both of those teams made unprecedented postseason runs, neither was able to match the stretch that the No. 18 Utes are currently on this regular season.

After demolishing archrival BYU at the Huntsman Center on Tuesday night, Utah picked up its 17th consecutive win, bringing it to within one victory of the all-time school record set in 1977.

For fans who have grown up watching Utah women’s hoops, it seems like head coach Elaine Elliott has been on the Utah bench drawing up plays and muttering under her breath since the dawn of time. But Elliott, who is in her 25th year and picked up her illustrious 500th career win last season, had yet to show up in Salt Lake City the last time the Utes had an 18-game winning streak.

“I’m glad to be on this team and do it for a coach like Elaine Elliott,” Warburton said. “She deserves this. It’s because of her that we’re where we’re at right now. I know she always says it’s us, but you know when you have somebody to look up to, and you know that she’s supporting you every day, you want to play good all the time.”

But the team isn’t focusing on the streak. In fact, at least one Utah player is completely oblivious to it. When told that the school record is 18 straight wins, starting center Jessica Perry’s response was a little surprising.

“Oh, it is?” said Perry, who was a sophomore during Utah’s run of 2006. “We just keep winning and it’s fun. It’s awesome, you know, it’s just good to do stuff for the school. This is a good team, and we’re having tons of fun.”

So, how do the two teams compare?

“I think it’s two totally different teams, but they’re the same,” Perry said. “We lost a couple of games (in 2006), but this team, we find a way to win. We’re just relentless.”

Perry believes the two teams are equally good. Although the 2006 team had two nationally recognized stars, the current team has Leilani Mitchell, who Perry says is “just so smart with the ball” — not to mention Morgan Warburton and Kalee Whipple, who combine for more than 30 points a game on the wings.

Warburton, a freshman on the 2006 team, also believes the current team is as good as the team that fell painfully short of a trip to the Final Four after losing to eventual-champion Maryland in overtime.

“I think they’re pretty much the exact same,” said Warburton. “Just the feeling of knowing that everyone’s going to come and play every night and get the job done. It’s really a good feeling to know that. That’s what I felt like my freshman year.”

For Elliott’s current team, there’s really no surprise that an Elliott-coached team is on the cusp of setting new trends.

“She’s just a smart lady, and it’s bound to happen,” Perry said. “She knows everything. You don’t even know the stuff that she’s thinking. You’re just like, ‘Oh, where did that come from?'”

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Tony Pizza

Coach Elaine Elliott is enjoying her team’s successful run.