March 2, 2008
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Leilani Mitchell had 19 points and 13 assists to help No. 16 Utah beat No. 24 Wyoming 67-53 on Sunday, giving the Utes' the Mountain West regular-season title and their 20th straight victory.
Kalee Whipple added 16 points and 10 rebounds. She banked a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to cap an 11-4 run, which gave Utah (25-3, 14-0 Mountain West) a 48-34 lead with less than 11 minutes remaining. The Cowgirls' (23-5, 11-4) never recovered.
This is the first time Utah has played a ranked opponent since it cracked the Top 25 on Feb. 4. Morgan Warburton and Jessica Perry added 12 and 10 points respectively for the Utes.
In January, Utah needed a last-second 3-pointer to beat the Cowgirls 60-59 in Laramie. Utah has a 55-8 record against Wyoming and is 28-2 at home.
Both offenses ground to a halt to start the second half. Wyoming's Hanna Zavecz hit a 3-pointer for the first field goal by either team, which cut Utah's lead to 35-30.
Then Utah made it's run to secure the win.
Whipple hit a cutting Mitchell for an easy layup to cap an 8-4 run to take a 45-34 lead with 12:00 remaining. Then Utah's interior defense stifled the Cowgirls. Wyoming only had 16 points in the paint compared to Utah's 26.
Utah opened the game with aggression. The Utes took an early 15-4 lead at the 13 minute mark.
But Wyoming answered with a 9-2 run to make it 17-14 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Utah outscored Wyoming 15-12 the rest of the way, behind 10 first half assists from Mitchell, to take a 32-26 lead. Bolerjack kept the Cowboys close in the first half with four 3-pointers, Wyoming's only points in the last 10 minutes.
"Utah is a very talented team," said head coach Joe Legerski. "I was with some very good teams with Elaine and this one does not take a back seat to any of the others. They have a tremendous point guard in Mitchell, along with Warburton and Whipple.
"This is a very difficult place to play. I also thought we didn't do a good job rebounding the ball, and we really settled in shooting the basketball from the perimeter. We are usually more aggressive at going to the basket, but tonight we were content to shoot the ball from the perimeter."
Wyoming shot 17-42 (.405) from the field and 8-23 (.348) from beyond the arc.
Utah shot 26-58 (.448) from the field, while out rebounding the Cowgirls 39-23.
The Cowgirls will close out the regular season at home with senior night against the BYU Cougars, on Wednesday, March 5. The game is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. in Laramie and will be broadcast on the Mtn. Sports Network.