Big second half leads Utah past Tigers

By By Quinn Wilcox, Staff Writer

By Quinn Wilcox, Staff Writer

Maybe all the Utes needed was a halftime wake-up call.

Utah took a 22-8 run to open the second half and never looked back, beating Jackson State 77-49. Morgan Warburton led the Utes with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Kalee Whipple and Katie King also had standout games for the Utes, scoring 16 and 15 points respectively.

The Utes broke the game open in the second half. Utah saw their 11-point lead shrink to four by the end of the first half. Jackson State took advantage of the Utes’ carelessness with the ball and scored 13 points off of turnovers. They would only score one more point off of turnovers in the second half.

“That’s gonna be the crucial things with the team this year, is taking care of the ball,” Warburton said. “That’s what runs our offense, and like with anything in basketball, you got to take care of the ball to win the game.”

Utah’s lead shot up to 56-38 at the beginning of the second half and they wouldn’t let Jackson State make any more runs at making a game out of it. Although the offense was proficient in their second-half run, it was the defense that really stood out.

“There was a turnaround in terms of their shooting percentage and what they were getting,” said head coach Elaine Elliot. “In the first half, we were letting them get good looks from 16 feet and then not even guarding them after that. We did a better job of that (in the second half).”

Elliot’s happiness with the second-half defensive performance may have come from a fiery halftime speech to her team as Jackson State went from shooting 44 percent in the first half, to just 22 percent in the second.

Utah’s dominance in the paint was another huge factor in the game. Utah won the rebounding battle 44-26. Along with being faster at getting to missed shots, the Utes didn’t allow much in the way of easy lay-ups either. Jackson State had a total of six points in the paint the entire game.

“(Jackson State’s) got two good post kids,” Elliot said. “We really felt like that was their strength. I thought we didn’t do a good job in the first half, but we really didn’t see much of a post presence from them in the second half.”

The debut of freshmen point guards Hannah Stephens and Janita Badon was one with mixed results. Both players were effective crashing the boards, grabbing four a piece and Badon was particularly effective in running the fast break. The main area where both players will have to improve in is turnovers. The two players combined for nine in the game.

“(Stephens and Badon) struggled a bit with getting us in stuff, but that just takes time and game experience,” Elliot said. “They’ll come along.”

Utah has a huge game looming next week at the Huntsman Center as the No. 9-ranked Louisville comes to town. The Utes will have a chance to tune-up their game some more though before their big showdown as they travel to South Dakota State this Thursday.

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Tyler Cobb

Morgan Warburton helped the Utah women?s basketball start their season with a 77-49 win over Jackson State. Warburton finished the game with 18 points and 7 rebounds.