Michelle Plouffe led Utah with 13 points and 12 rebounds against New Mexico.
Jan. 19, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE - Freshman forward Michelle Plouffe hit two free throws and grabbed two defensive rebounds in the final seconds as the Utah women's basketball team clinched a 56-53 victory over New Mexico on Wednesday evening.
Utah held a six-point lead after Rachel Messer's three-point basket with 1:28 left in the game, 54-48. Jasmine Patterson answered for the Lobos at the other end of the floor with a layup before the Lobos began to foul to put Utah in the bonus as the clock ticked just under a minute. Messer missed a free-throw with 41 seconds left, and Patterson took her defensive rebound down the floor to make a long three to cut the lead to one, 54-53.
Another missed Utah free-throw gave the ball back to New Mexico, but after a timeout Plouffe was able to grab the rebound on the miss of Morgan Toben's long three with 11 seconds left. She was immediately fouled before hitting both free throws to put Utah up by three, 56-53. Plouffe also pulled down Amanda Best's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer.
Plouffe had her seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Messer scored 11 while Janita Badon was also in double figures with 10 points.
Utah held a 43-30 advantage in rebounds after struggling to rebound over the last two games.
"Our shortcomings in the last two games have been rebounds, both defensive rebounds and offensive rebounds," interim head coach Anthony Levrets said. "I thought our team did a great job limiting them to one shot. Diana Rolniak, Michelle Plouffe and Brittany Knighton battled, and our guards helped them on the defensive glass."
Utah struggled with fouls early in the second half, and New Mexico was quickly in the bonus. The Lobos went 15-19 in the second half from the charity stripe.
A 12-2 New Mexico run over the next five minutes saw Utah's lead evaporate into a 36-33 deficit with 9:30 remaining, but the Utes continued to battle as the teams traded baskets over the next several minutes. Although Utah was able to take back the lead for the upper hand, New Mexico was never far behind.
Plouffe was fouled on a layup with 3:30 left, making the subsequent free-throw for a seven-point Utah lead before UNM's Lauren Taylor and Best combined for the next four points to set up the final 1:30.
It was the 11th-straight game between Utah and New Mexico that has been decided by a single-digit margin. The score was tied seven times with eight lead changes.
"It's always tough to win in The Pit," Levrets said. "I really respect Coach Flanagan. He has built an incredible program here. I'm really proud of our kids tonight."
Utah returns to the court on Saturday, Jan. 22, against TCU, at 6:00 p.m.