Women’s Hoops: Ranked foes meet at Huntsman Center

By By Natalie Dicou and By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The U women’s basketball team clinched at least a share of the Mountain West Conference crown Wednesday night against TCU, but the Utes want more. They want the title all to themselves.

On Sunday, the Utes could clinch an outright title with a win over No. 24 Wyoming.

“We stole one from their place,” Utah guard Morgan Warburton said.

Warburton was the key to a narrow Ute victory over the Cowgirls in Laramie, Wyo., a month ago. The junior drained a 3-pointer with seconds left on the clock to give Utah a one-point edge.

“They’re going to come and play hard,” Warburton said. “They always do. They’re ready for us. We’ve got to be ready. We can’t start the game how we started (the TCU game).”

The Utes got off to a slow start Wednesday night against TCU as they went scoreless for the first four minutes. The final 36 minutes, however, were a different story. The Utes outplayed the Horned Frogs in every way possible en route to a 15-point win.

This meeting between the Cowgirls and the Utes will be different. Last time, Wyoming was ranked No. 15 and the Utes were on the outside of the Top 25 looking in. After the Utes beat Wyoming and handed the Cowgirls their second loss of the year, Wyoming stumbled a bit, losing games to BYU and TCU. After falling to the Horned Frogs, the Cowgirls dropped out of the Top 25. They have since returned to the national rankings and will try to threaten the Utes’ new school-record 19-game winning streak.

If Wyoming does pull off an upset this weekend, the Utes could earn an outright title with a win over one of the two remaining teams on their schedule-conference doormat Colorado State or UNLV (4-8).

Sunday’s showdown between the MWC’s elite teams provides opportunities for both Utah and Wyoming.

“It’s good for both teams,” Utah coach Elaine Elliott said. “For both teams, it’s going to be about getting NCAA seeding. That’s another Top-25 win for whoever gets that one. That’s big in the whole scheme of determining seeds and placements in the nationals.”

Not often do two ranked MWC teams meet late in the season.

“I think it’s exciting for our conference,” Warburton said. “They’re going to come after us Sunday. We’ve just got to be prepared. I know what we can do. We can beat anybody if we want to.”

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Jarad Reddekopp

With a win against No. 24 Wyoming on Sunday, the No. 16 Utes will win the Mountain West regular season championship outright. The last time the teams played, Utah won the game with a 3-pointer as time expired.