2nd half adjustments lead Utes to win

By Quinn Wilcox, Staff Writer

The method was different, but the result remains the same.

The women’s basketball team’s second-half adjustments were enough to propel the Utes to their 11th straight victory Wednesday night. Kalee Whipple led Utah with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the Utes held TCU to 31 percent shooting in the second half as they defeated the Horned Frogs 73-63 in the Hunstman Center.

TCU’s Helena Sverrisdottir made sure that the Utes weren’t ever going to run away with it, however, as she put up 27 points and nine rebounds.

“I wasn’t happy with our defense in the first half,” said head coach Elaine Elliott. “They got too many open looks. We changed our high-pick defense though, and (TCU) didn’t get anything out of that as far as 3s are concerned.”

In the first half, TCU went 7-for-7 from behind the arc, including three conversions from Sverrisdottir, and went into halftime with a nine-point lead. In the second half, however, the Horned Frogs didn’t make their first 3-pointer until the 3:51 mark and ended up shooting 10 percent from the 3-point line in the second half.

“In the first half they just didn’t miss,” Elliott said. “You go 7-for-7 from 3 and you aren’t going to lose. But in halftime we just talked about how it wasn’t going to last. Generally the team is going to come back to you.”

Utah was also more efficient at attacking TCU’s zone defense as the game wore on. In the first half, the Utes were forcing a lot of the action against TCU’s zone defense, which led to 10 first-half turnovers and a 37 percent shooting clip from the field. But in the second half, Utah only committed four turnovers and improved to 45 percent shooting from the floor.

“It was pretty simple,” Elliott said. “The gaps are the gaps against that zone. You have to make plays with people in your passing lanes. It took us a while to get used to that. In the second half we did much better.”

The Utes took control of the game at the 12:12 mark when they capped off a 15-2 run on a 3-pointer by Kalee Whipple. The bucket gave Utah its first lead of the second half that they never relinquished. The Utes had a few opportunities to put the game out of reach, but Sverrisdottir’s play kept the game in limbo. The 6-foot-1-inch guard was a matchup nightmare for Utah, as she was too big and too fast for anyone on the Ute roster.

Whipple was assigned to her the most of the night, but even her stout defense sometimes wasn’t enough.

“Sverrisdottir is a great player,” Whipple said. “She can shoot, drive, or post up. She’s obviously bigger than me. The most important thing coach told me though was to make her take tough shots. Just to stay between her and the basket, and that she is going to make points. There’s nothing you can really do about that. So I just tried to make it tough on her.”

The win puts Utah at 8-0 in conference, giving them a first half sweep of conference play. The Utes will start round two of conference play Sunday at 3 p.m., when they take on the much-improved Wyoming Cowgirls in the Huntsman Center.

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Tyler Cobb

Kalee Whipple scored 21 points in the Utes? 73-63 win versus TCU Wednesday. With the win the Utes maintain their perfect conference record.