Utes extend streak to 8

By Quinn Wilcox, Staff Writer

For Utah, eight is great.

In what was another solid outing for the women’s basketball team, the Utes topped UNLV 67-50 on Saturday, giving them their eighth win in a row.

The Utes opened the game on a 10-2 run and never looked back.

Forward Kalee Whipple led all scorers with 22 points to go alongside eight rebounds on the night. Katie King and Morgan Warburton also pitched in successful games for the Utes, as King went 7-of-9 from the field and ended the game with 15. Warburton had 12 on the night.

“We always try to come out with a little fire at every game no matter who we’re playing,” King said. ” I can’t really explain why we have that or how it happens, but it just does.”

The eighth straight win puts Utah’s record at 12-6 (5-0 MWC).

Utah’s quick start helped it spring out and finish the first half at 38-16. Whipple led the Utes with 14 in the first, and forward Halie Sawyer dominated the boards with eight first-half rebounds. She went on to finish with 10.

“A big part of our game plan was to stop them from scoring,” Whipple said. “UNLV is a really good offensive team. It was important to get some defensive stops and have our offense come from our defense.”

If slowing UNLV down on offense was Utah’s main priority, then mission accomplished. UNLV shot a mediocre 25.9 percent in the first half, and only made one 3-pointer in the first 20 minutes.

With such a large lead to fall back on, the Utes were able to put the game in cruise control in the second half.

Utah began the second by adding to its lead, pushing the margin up to 29 at one point.

The end of the second half saw the Utes defense get a little complacent, however. UNLV hit a barrage of 3-pointers at the end of the game to make the score a bit more respectable.

“We just got too comfortable,” Warburton said. “When we get ahead like that, sometimes we think we can do just anything and still win. But we can’t do that in conference, and it’s one of the biggest things we’re working on right now.”

Utah now enters an extreme three-game stretch in the conference. The Utes face rival BYU on Wednesday in Provo, New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., on Sunday, and finish up with TCU at home Feb. 4.

“We got a really hard stretch coming up right now,” Warburton said. “We have BYU and New Mexico at their places. It will be exciting to see how tough this team is. The freshmen have yet to play at BYU or at “The Pit.’ It might be a rude awakening, but it will be good for them too.”

These next two weeks will be critical in determining who has the momentum entering the second half of the Mountain West Conference season. Utah, along with BYU, TCU, New Mexico and San Diego State, has separated itself from the rest of the conference. Utah is the only undefeated team remaining in MWC play, with the next four only owning one loss each.

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John Stafford

Kalee Whipple led the Utes in scoring with 22 points as Utah defeated UNLV 67-50 on Saturday.