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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utes extend home-game streak

By Corbin Godfrey

With their 18-game home win streak on the line and head coach Elaine Elliott absent because of illness, the Utes battled back from being down 14 against New Mexico to get their first Mountain West Conference win and keep the streak going.

Trailing 14-28 with 1 minute 19 seconds left in the first half, the Utes scored a quick five points that cut the lead to nine heading into the locker room behind two Taryn Wicijowski free throws and a 3-pointer by Rachel Messer, who finished the game with eight points.

Utah struggled from the floor in the first half, missing several shots in the paint. The Utes had just 6-for-24 shooting before the break.

The message in the locker room at half time was simple: just keep playing.

“Coach (Levrets) just said it’s a two-minute game,” said senior Kalee Whipple. “He told us that our shots would start falling, and we just needed to rebound better and stick it out.”
“It kind of reminded me of the Oregon game,” said assistant coach Anthony Levrets. “We weren’t playing badly, we just weren’t making shots.”

In the second half, the Utes came out doing just that. They held New Mexico scoreless for the first six and a half minutes while going on a 11-0 run. Wicijowski converted on a 3-point play with just under 14 minutes to take the lead 30-28.

But the lead didn’t stick long, as New Mexico’s Amy Beggin hit a pair of free throws to take a 32-30 lead. Janita Badon quickly answered back to tie it up. Badon finished with five points.

After Badon hit a shot to take a 42-37 lead with 5:58 left, New Mexico’s Porche Torrance sunk a 3-pointer with 3:47 remaining to pull the Lobos within two, but they would be the last points of the night for New Mexico.

Kalee Whipple hit a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left, giving the Utes a 44-40 lead and all but wrapping up the game for the Utes. Rachel Messer put the icing on the cake by hitting two free throws to seal the win, 46-40.

After scoring just two points against TCU on Saturday, Kalee Whipple was 3 for 10 on the night with 11 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Wicijowski led all scorers and added another double-double to her résumé with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Elliott was away because she was sick, but Levrets said it’s not serious.

“She is just sick, and we expect her to be fine and back tomorrow,” he said “This is just a one-time deal.”

Given the reigns for one night as head coach, Levrets refused to take any of the credit for the win.

As to how it felt to be 1-0 as a head coach, Levrets said, “I am not 1-0. This is Elaine’s team, and I am her assistant, and this is our team’s win. I am proud to be a part of this group every single day. It doesn’t matter what my part is or how it changes8212;I am just happy to be a part of this team, and it was a huge win for us.”

The Utes will host UNLV on Saturday in the Huntsman Center. Tip-off is at 3 p.m.

[email protected]

Mike Mangum

Taryn Wicijowski scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Utes? 46-40 win over New Mexico on Tuesday night.

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