Michelle Plouffe had 15 points and nine rebounds for Utah against Utah State.
March 15, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah women's basketball team overcame a 14-point first-half deficit to defeat Utah State in the first round of the WNIT, 69-58, on Thursday evening.
Utah (16-15) moves on to face fellow Pac-12 rival Washington in the second round of the WNIT. The Utes and Huskies will play on Sunday, March 18, at noon, in Seattle.
Five players scored in double figures for Utah, led by Taryn Wicijowski, who had her 10th double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. She also had a career-high four blocks. Michelle Plouffe scored 15 points with nine rebounds, while Iwalani Rodrigues had 13 points with eight rebounds. Rachel Messer tallied 11 while Cheyenne Wilson scored 10.
"I am really proud of our effort in the second half," Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. "We obviously didn't play our best basketball in the first half. We looked like we'd been off for eight days. We challenged the team at halftime, and they responded and came out and played one of their best halves of the year. I'm really proud of our kids."
Utah State (21-10) took advantage of first-half turnovers by the Utes to pull ahead to a 14-point lead, 29-15. The Aggies scored 14 points off 11 Utah turnovers in the first half.
Utah rallied in the final two minutes by ending the first half on a 9-2 run to cut the halftime deficit to single digits, 31-24. Wicijowski led the drive for the Utes, completing two three-point plays in the run.
Utah came out of the locker room energized. Down by seven points, 36-29 with 17:11 remaining in the game, Messer sparked a 12-0 run with a three-pointer to give Utah a five-point lead, 41-36. Another run that started with 12 minutes left in the first half saw the Utes pull ahead by 12 points, 52-40 with 8:20 left.
The Utes shot 48 percent in the second half and 46 percent in the game. Utah held a 47-35 rebounding advantage.
The Aggies were led by Ashlee Brown, who had 14 points.