Iwalani Rodrigues scored 19 to lead Utah against Utah State.
Jan. 1, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY - A late surge lifted the Utah women's basketball team to a hard-fought 73-61 victory against in-state rival Utah State on Saturday afternoon, completing the Utes' non-conference slate.
Four players were in double figures for the Utes, led by 19 from Iwalani Rodrigues. Michelle Plouffe just missed a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. Diana Rolniak had a career-high 12 points, while leading the team with four blocks. Janita Badon scored 13 and had seven assists and four steals.
Utah State led 33-32 at halftime. A half-court shot at the buzzer from Badon cut the Aggie lead to a point. The two teams spent the first 14 minutes of the second half locked in a tight battle, as the score was tied four times with three lead changes.
With the score tied at 55-55 with six minutes left, a 7-0 run capped with a three-pointer from Rodrigues gave Utah its largest lead of the game, 62-55 with 4:45 left. Although Utah State scored the next four points to cut the lead to three, 62-59 with 2:50 left, Utah wore down the Aggies in the final minutes, outscoring them 11-2 for the win. Rolniak completed a three-point play in the run, while Rachel Messer hit four free throws to help seal the win.
The Utes shot 57-percent in the second half, and 53-percent for the game.
Utah State held the upper hand in the first half, leading by as many as seven points. With the Aggies up 26-19 with just over five minutes remaining in the half, the Utes went on a 10-2 run to take a one-point lead, 29-28. Although Utah State scored the next five points to re-take the lead, Badon's half-court buzzer beater brought the Utes to within one at the half.
Utah enters Mountain West Conference play with a 7-7 record. The Utes begin conference play on Wednesday, Jan. 5, at home against Air Force.