Morgan Warburton shot .500 from the field and scored 20 points against AFA.
Jan. 9, 2008
USAFA, Colo. - The University of Utah women's basketball team (12-3 overall, 1-0 Mountain West) was reminded tonight that wins in conference don't come easy. The United States Air Force Academy fought tooth and nail with the Utes, but Utah escaped Clune Arena with a 60-50 win in the Mountain West Conference opener.
Utah had a hard time putting distance between itself and the Falcons (6-7, 0-1) in the first half, never owning leads larger than six points. Utah rallied in the second stanza, though, as Leilani Mitchell returned from halftime to score the team's first nine points. It enabled the Utes to go on an 11-4 run, and it transformed their 26-22 halftime lead into a 37-29 cushion.
The visitors never looked back from then on. An 11-5 rush midway through the second half extended Utah's eight-point lead into a 14-point spread, 50-36, with 8:13 left in the game. That would be its largest lead of the game as Utah settled for the 10-point win.
The Utes' second-half surge centered around its 61.9 percent shooting (13-for-21). That was far better than their first-half mark of 39.1 percent (9-for-23). Those numbers average out to a .500 effort for the game.
Mitchell finished the game with a season-high-tying 24 points, 20 of those tallies came in the second half. She connected on 8-of-14 attempts and was 7-for-8 from the charity stripe. The senior point guard also finished with six assists and two steals. Morgan Warburton also had a 20- point game, scoring 20 in shooting 7-for-14 from the floor
It was a push under the glass as both teams hauled in 28 boards apiece. But, Utah held the Falcons to .409 shooting. The top three-point shooting team, AFA only shot 2-for-6 for the game from downtown. Warburton led all rebounders with nine caroms. All of them came on the defensive side of the floor.
Air Force's Kim Kreke and Pamela Findlay tied for team-honors as both tallied 11 points. Its top rebounder was Alecia Steele with eight boards. She left the game late in the first half with an injured ankle.
The Utes get a week of rest before they return to the hardwood. Utah comes home to host conference foe San Diego State on Wednesday, Jan. 16. That game is set to tip in the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m.