Team ‘jacked’ in SD

By Christopher Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

An often overlooked phase of basketball is handling the ball.

Elaine Elliot’s Utes learned that lesson the hard way against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, as Utah committed 26 turnovers en route to its first loss of the season 70-58 in Brookings, SD.

“We needed a few key things to go our way and didn’t,” said head coach Elliott in a statement.

Utah started the game fast and furiously, jumping out to a 17-7 lead six minutes and 24 seconds into the game. Pre-season All-Mountain West Conference selections Morgan Warburton and Kalee Whipple lived up to their hype as they scored Utah’s first 17 points of the game. Five of the first six made field goals came from behind the arc.

The rest of the first half belonged to the Jackrabbits, as they went on an impressive 29-11 run to close out the first half.

Aside from the exorbitant amount of turnovers the Utes had on the night, it was the play of senior Jackrabbit forward Jennifer Warkenthien. The South Dakota native put on an clinic of well-rounded game as she scored 11 points, pulled down 13 rebounds, had seven assists and had a steal and a block on the night.

“We competed hard and withstood that run in the first half,” Elliott said.

Although SDSU held a 36-28 lead at the half, the Utes fought and clawed their way back into the game thanks in large part to the play of their two playmakers and role players Katie King and Halie Sawyer, who had 11 and seven rebounds respectively.

With exactly 10 minutes left in the second half, Warburton toed and nailed a 3-pointer, cutting the Jackrabbit lead to just one, at 50-49.

Senior Warburton finished with a game-high 25 points and also had eight rebounds.

After the lead was cut to one, the 3-point parade started for SDSU. The Jackrabbits hit four 3-pointers. Utah failed to measure up and answer after SDSU baskets and the game fell away from the Utes from there on out.

Redshirt freshman guard Jill Young sealed the deal for the Jackrabbits as she hit three of the four 3-pointers that sent Utah toward its first loss of the season. Young led her team with 20 points, including going 5-for-7 from downtown.

“We weren’t sharp offensively and have a lot of things to work on, but we were still quite competitive against a very good team,” Elliott said.

Despite the fast start from Whipple, she shot 5-for-17 from the field and had a game-high seven turnovers to coincide with being in foul trouble for most of the game.

When hearing South Dakota State, most would assume a cake-walk game, but the Jackrabbits are no walkover. They recently waxed Big Ten school Wisconsin by 20 points.

Elliott’s Utes will go back to the drawing board in a big way, as No. 9 Louisville visits the Huntsman Center on Tuesday. Despite the setback, Utah’s coach believes in her team’s ability to get the job done.

“We’ll get better and win a few,” she said.

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