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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 squeak past Minnesota

By Liz Frome

Coming off their first loss to Utah State in their opening game of the 2009 preseason, the Utes moved to 1-1 Tuesday at home with a scrappy 60-59 victory over Minnesota.

The excitement to get to 1-1 was evident on the faces of Utah’s young team, as sophomore point guard Janita Badon sang along with and subtly conducted the Utah fight song during warm-ups.

The eagerness carried through the start of the first half as the Utes hung tight with a tough Gopher lineup. The Utes had 28-26 leadheading into the break with buzzer-beater from senior forward Kalee Whipple.

The 2-pointer was Whipple’s first score of the night.

“Whether (Kalee is) scoring or getting offensive rebounds, she does the little things that matter, so I didn’t even notice that she didn’t have any points (until her last shot),” Badon said.

In the first half, the Utes outrebounded the Gophers 24-16, seven of which came from freshman Taryn Wicijowski, who also had 13 points in the half.

“If it weren’t for (Taryn), we wouldn’t have been in the game at the time,” Whipple said. “It’s important that we utilize her. It takes a lot of pressure off the wings, so any time we can get it into Taryn, it’s a good thing.”

Whipple found her shot early in the second half, racking up 11 points and five rebounds in under nine minutes.

“I was struggling with my shot a little bit (in the first half), but I think it was important for me to just not get down,” Whipple said.

After gaining a nine-point lead with more than 13 minutes to go in the game, the Utes gave up several points under the basket to the Gophers’ Ashley Ellis-Milan and Brittany McCoy.

Whipple missed one of two free throws after a layup from McCoy that brought the Gophers within two with barely more than two minutes left.

Whipple hit a 3-pointer off a pass from Sawyer, keeping the Utes’ lead alive.
With just 11 seconds left on the clock, Whipple again came through for Utah, knocking down two free throws to give the Utes a four-point advantage.

Minnesota 3-pointer quickly followed, but the Gophers again put Whipple on the line. Whipple missed both, but pulled down the board to run out the clock, sealing the Utes’ first preseason victory.

Head coach Elaine Elliott said that though there are still many things the young team needs to improve to have a successful regular season, she said coming away with the win Tuesday night was a big step in the right direction.

“It’s a really big win for us,” Elliott said. “There’s no Ws sitting out there (in our preseason schedule), so to get one (at home) along the way is really important.”

Whipple led the Utes in scoring with 17 points and nine rebounds, followed closely by Badon, who ended with 14 points. Wicijowski pulled down a double-double for the Utes in her second career start, ending the night with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

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