Women’s Hoops: One and done for undefeated conference season

By Natalie Dicou

Before the game, Wednesday’s matchup between the Colorado State and Utah women’s basketball teams seemed pointless. After all, Elaine Elliott’s bunch went into Fort Collins, Colo., with a pristine 14-0 record while the Rams were sitting in the conference gutter at 0-14.

But after it took the Utes a full 40 minutes to just barely be squeezed by the Rams, an old adage comes to mind — “That’s why they play the game.”

No. 15 Utah went into Fort Collins having already secured the MWC championship, the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and riding the nation’s longest winning streak at 20 games. The Rams didn’t seem to care about any of that.

“I think a little bit of reality hit us last night knowing that we can’t overlook anybody,” said Morgan Warburton, who scored 25 points in the win and got a key steal with less than a minute to go. “I think that’s one thing that we need to remember this Saturday (against UNLV). We’re going to have to prepare the same because you never know what could happen.”

Only UNLV remains on the Utes’ regular-season schedule. If Utah can come away with a win over UNLV (8-20, 4-11 in MWC) at the Huntsman Center, it will have done what only one other Utah team has ever done — go undefeated in the MWC. The other team was the 2001 Utes, who went on to the Sweet 16.

The 2008 version of the Utes would love to do more than duplicate that team’s accomplishments. This time they want to go further.

But before March Madness gets going, there’s still a tiny bit of unfinished business left. Against UNLV, Utah hopes to avoid a repeat of what happened Wednesday.

“If we would’ve played that bad against one of the better teams in our conference, we would’ve lost,” Warburton said. “UNLV is athletic, so we need to prepare more for this game because of what happened last night for sure.”

Although the Rebels haven’t earned many notches in the win column this season, UNLV’s Sequoia Holmes provides the Rebels with a viable offensive threat. Holmes scores 17.3 points a contest. Only Warburton, who averages 18.1 points per game, scores more than Holmes in the MWC.

“We need to limit Sequoia’s touches and her points,” Warburton said. “They need her to play well to win.”

Warburton wants to get the win for the graduating seniors who will be honored.

“It’s the last time we’re playing in the Huntsman (Center), but we still have a long way to go this year,” Warburton said.

[email protected]

Ty Cobb

Facing UNLV this Saturday at the Huntsman Center, the Utes hope to be the second team in Utah history to go undefeated in the MWC.