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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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Utes look to rebound in first home game

By Liz Frome

Coming off of a disappointing 58-67 loss to Utah State on Friday in its season opener, the women’s basketball team is preparing to take on an aggressive Minnesota team tonight in its first home game of the season.

The Utes’ loss to the Aggies was their first in women’s basketball history, setting the series record between the two schools at 27-1.

Utah shot just 38 percent from the field, including going four for 13 from long distance.

Utah’s young team will try to defend its home court against the Gophers and improve on its performance against USU. Minnesota was picked to finish third in the Big Ten conference by coaches and fourth by the media and is returning four starters from last season: Brittany McCoy, Ashley Ellis-Milan, Katie Ohm and Jackie Voigt, who helped lead Minnesota to the NCAA second round last year.

Utah head coach Elaine Elliott said the matchup against the Gophers will be just one of Utah’s big challenges in the preseason.

“Our preseason schedule is very challenging,” said head coach Elaine Elliott. “It’s not created to give me 25 wins. It’s created to give the kids the competition and (national level) of competition that they want to compete at. It’s created to give the program the exposure we want it to have, and it’s created to make us the best team we can be.”

Elliott blamed lack of intensity in the opening minutes for the loss against Utah State, something the Utes will have to correct if they want to avoid starting their season with an 0-2 record.

The Gophers got off to a strong start Sunday, defeating Lamar 84-45 in their season opener, and will be bringing a strong team to Salt Lake City. Minnesota boasts both experienced veterans and talented underclassmen, including sophomore guard Kiara Buford.

Buford had a career-high 23 points against Lamar, racking up a double-double with 11 rebounds in Minnesota’s victory, making a name for herself early in the season.

The matchup marks the second meeting between the two teams. The last time the Utes took on Minnesota, on Dec. 7, 2007, Utah came away with a 66-54 win on the road.

Utah’s young team has been relying heavily on its underclassmen and started two in its loss to Utah State. Sophomore Janita Badon, who has taken the reins at point guard, and freshman center Taryn Wicijowski had eight and 12 points, respectively. In Friday’s game, Wicijowski was second in scoring for the Utes, right behind senior forward Kalee Whipple, who led the team with 21. Freshman Diana Rolniak, Iwalani Rodrigues and Rachel Messer also saw minutes off the bench.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. tonight at the Huntsman Center.

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