Women’s Hoops: Utes play down to lowly Rams

By Natalie Dicou

Wednesday night’s game between No. 15 Utah and Colorado State was a contest between two very different teams — one of the teams lives in the MWC penthouse and the other resides in the conference’s musty cellar.

Going in, the Utes (14-0 in MWC) were on a 20-game win streak that dated back to Dec. 3. The Rams (0-14) were on an 18-game losing streak that dated back to Dec. 4.

But instead of running and hiding at the prospect of going up against mighty Utah, the Rams came out strong, startling the Utes by giving them one of their closest contests of the year. In the end, though, the Utes escaped Fort Collins, Colo., with a 63-58 win.

“I think CSU showed a lot of intensity and had better execution tonight,” said junior Morgan Warburton, who led all scorers with 25 points and made a key steal in the final minute of play.

“It was obvious they came ready to play, and I think we overlooked them a little bit at the beginning. They definitely caught us off-guard.”

Colorado State made a statement early by jumping out to a 6-0 lead. Fortunately for the Utes, it didn’t last long as Utah answered by scoring nine straight points of its own.

Colorado State hung around throughout the entire game as the Utes shot a meager 35.0 percent from the field.

“It was a poor shooting night for both teams,” Utah head coach Elaine Elliott said. “When that happens, the score’s going to be in the 50s, and that means that it’s anyone’s game.”

The Utes held a 58-50 lead with 6:12 to go. At that point, Utah went cold and wasn’t able to get the ball in the basket for the next 5 1/2 minutes.

The drought allowed the Rams to come storming back to tie the game at 58 with 2:49 to go. Still knotted at 58 with 39 seconds left, Warburton stole the ball and made a layup. She was fouled on the play and made the free throw, giving the Utes a three-point edge.

“I kind of read their offense on the last steal,” Warburton said of her big moment. “I had a steal earlier in the game on that same rotation, so I took a chance on that pass and I was fortunate to get the ball in my hands.”

Point guard Leilani Mitchell aided the Ute victory with 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

As for forward Kalee Whipple, it just wasn’t her night-at least as far as shooting was concerned. Whipple finished the game with just seven points on 2-of-11 shooting, but still managed to pull down 10 rebounds.

The Utes will finish their season on Saturday when they play host to UNLV at the Huntsman Center at 3 p.m.

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Tyler Cobb

With a win against Colorado State Wednesday night, Utah’s record is now 15-0 in the MWC. The Utes are just one game away from finishing the season with a perfect conference record.