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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Women look to improve on defense

By Liz Frome

Although the offense looked solid against Chadron State for the Utes’ season-opening exhibition game Saturday, Utah’s defense highlighted an area with an opportunity for improvement.

“We’re probably gonna have to step it up in the defensive area especially,” said senior forward Kalee Whipple. “That’s what we’ve been working on the past few days of practice, and we’ll continue to work on it.”

Whipple had 17 points and nine rebounds in Friday’s game, and head coach Elaine Elliott said she thought Whipple did a nice job playing her first game without former teammate Morgan Warburton, who graduated last year.

“Kalee just has a sense of confidence that’s not going away,” Elliott said.
In hindsight, Whipple said she thought she did well, but said she didn’t shoot as well as she could have.

“I don’t feel that I shot particularly well from outside, but it’s not all about that,” she said. “I think it’s more about helping the team, going for rebounds, doing some of the little stuff that you can get points by doing.”

Also crashing the boards for the Utes was senior forward Halie Sawyer. Sawyer had a double-double against the Eagles with 12 points and 19 rebounds.

“I love the way that Halie was just flying to the boards,” Elliott said. “She was just at the ball all over the place. You (have to really) work to get 19 boards.”

Both Utah and Chadron State started out slow offensively Friday night, but the Utes quickly found their rhythm, taking a 22-point lead into the locker room at halftime.

The lead was largely credited to Sawyer and sophomore point guard Janita Badon, who had 12 and 10 points heading into the break, respectively.

Badon, who started just four games last season for the Utes, had 17 points in Utah’s first game to go along with three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 25 minutes of play.
“I felt like a point guard,” Badon said. “I felt like I was doing what I was told to do by the coaches.”

Elliott said Badon did a remarkable job preparing for her leading role.

“It was a great start for (Badon),” Elliott said. “She just has gotten better every day. It was an example of what she does well. Her shooting has improved, and she can hurt people just shooting the ball at times. She’s an improved player.”

Elliott said the matchup with Chadron State was a good starting point for the team and gave a good look at areas needing improvement.

“We got our young kids on the floor,” Elliott said. “I thought they did a nice job. (The game) gave us good film to watch. I’ve had years where there’s a lot more to worry about at this stage, so that’s a good sign.”

With Utah State up next on the Utes’ list, Whipple said the team will have to be sound on defense to come away with the win, especially because of the turnout of the two teams’ last matchup. The Utes claimed a solid 70-38 victory the last time they met the Aggies on Dec. 15, 2007 in Salt Lake City, and the Aggies are sure to be looking for revenge.

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