Nov. 27, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah women's basketball team took a big first-half lead en-route to a 92-64 win over Utah State on Tuesday evening.
Taryn Wicijowski had her second 20-point game of the year with a 21-point performance. She also led Utah with eight rebounds, three blocks and six assists. Michelle Plouffe scored 19 points with seven rebounds while Iwalani Rodrigues (15 points) and Paige Crozon (13 points) were also in double-figure scoring. Rodrigues had a career-high five steals.
Although Utah State started the game off with a three-pointer from Stephanie Bairstow, the Utes scored eight unanswered points to take a quick five-point lead. With the Utes leading by two points, 12-10 with 14 minutes left in the first half, the Utes pulled ahead with a 27-4 run to give Utah a 39-14 lead with two minutes leading in the first half. Utah led 41-18 at halftime behind 13 points from Wicijowski.
"For a stretch in the first half we defended as well as we could possibly defend," Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. "That 10-12 minute stretch, that's as good as we've defended since I've been here."
Utah led by as many as 40 points in the second half. Utah shot 63 percent from the floor in the game, including 45 percent from three-point range, outrebounded USU 43-25, and scored 22 points off turnovers. The Utes had 27 assists.
"If you can get knockaways and steals it always lead to more points, but it energizes you at the offensive end," Levrets said. "Even if you don't score in transition on those stops, the more stops you get the more comfortable you get stopping someone. Knowing that you're going to stop someone, the easier it is to shoot at the other end of the floor. It becomes more comfortable at that end. That's why we stress the defensive end so much. We feel like it makes us comfortable offensively because we know we can guard people."
One of the keys to the game was solid defense against Utah State's Devyn Christensen, who would lead USU with 18 points but was held to just two points in the first half. She entered the game averaging 25 points per game.
"The thing that we have been missing defensively is that wing stopper," Levrets said. "There are some great wings in the Pac-12 that we're going to play as the year goes on, and we have to have somebody that we can feel like we can put on a player, and tell them that their job is to lock that person down. And in the first half both Iwa [Rodrigues] and Cheyenne Wilson, when we substituted her for Iwa, did a great job. We were good offensively, but that was the key to the game. [Devyn] is the second-leading scorer in the country and we wanted to make her earn everything that she got. She had to earn them all."
Utah played all 12 players available on its bench.
Utah last scored 90 points in a 91-36 win over Southern Oregon on Dec. 20, 2010.
Utah travels to Hawaii to take on the Rainbow Wahine on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 2:00 p.m. HT (5:00 p.m. MT).