Women fall to Aggies in season opener despite 2nd-half surge

By Corbin Godfrey , Staff Writer

The Utah women’s basketball team lost its season opener at Utah State on Friday night, 67-58. The Utes found themselves fighting from behind all game, and despite a late surge in the second half, they couldn’t spark a comeback.

“I think maybe we were too calm,” said head coach Elaine Elliott. “We weren’t playing hard enough early8212;that’s the game.”

The Aggies came out on fire, jumping to a 13-point lead, 18-5, through the first six minutes of the game. The Aggies shot 62 percent from the field in the first half, giving them a 17-point lead at the half, 44-27.

Amber White led the Aggies in shooting in the first half with 16 points, and Kalee Whipple had a team-high 14 points for the Utes in the first half. The Utes shot just 37.5 percent in the first half.

“It was a tough start for us,” said Elliot about the team’s struggle in the first half. “I didn’t have them prepared. I have to look at things and see what it was.”

The Utes outscored the Aggies 31-23 in the second half, coming within eight points, but it wasn’t enough, as the Aggies quickly took the lead by double digits again.

The Utes pulled within 10 points, 59-49, with five minutes remaining, but leading scorer Halee Sawyer fouled out with just less than four minutes to play, and the Aggies were able to hold onto the lead the rest of the game.

USU shot 54.2 percent compared to Utah’s 38.2 percent in the contest.

Whipple led the Utes with 21 points. Taryn Wicijowski followed with 12 points in her first career start as a Ute. Sawyer and guard Janita Badon each contributed with eight points, and Sawyer pulled down a team-high 13 rebounds. Senior Sasha McKinnon made her first career start for the young Utah team.

USU’s White finished with a game-high 25 points, and Alice Coddington added 18 for the Aggies.

Utah won in the rebounding column, 36-28, and both teams turned the ball over 17 times.

“We just keep building,” Elliott said. “It was a tough opener on the road, and we weren’t ready. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and that’s what we have to concentrate on8212;getting back and getting the reps in.”

The Utah women’s basketball team is composed of three seniors, one junior, three sophomores and six freshmen, so there is some leeway expected from such a young team.

“I think we knew we would have some slippage with our young kids,” Elliot said. “We just haven’t had the reps. We need to get everyone on the same page.”

Elliott and the Utes look to bounce back Tuesday at 7 p.m., as they host Minnesota at the Huntsman Center.

[email protected]