Iwalani Rodrigues scored 13 points and had five rebounds for the Utes against Hawaii.
Dec. 1, 2012
HONOLULU-The Utah women's basketball team improved to 7-0 after surviving a late scare to beat Hawaii 62-61 win on Saturday afternoon.
Taryn Wicijowski scored a career-high 26 points, while Michelle Plouffe scored 14 and hometown favorite Iwalani Rodrigues (who is from Ewa Beach, Hawaii) had 13. Wicijowski and Rodrigues each had a team-high five rebounds.
"I thought we played a really good 32 minutes," Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. "Unfortunately in college basketball you have to play for 40 minutes, and fortunately we learned a lesson with a win. We could have walked out of there with a loss and felt really bad about ourselves, but we need to get back to practice and learn from the mistakes that we made to let that game get close."
After leading at halftime, 34-18, the Utes let Hawaii get within 10 in the first four minutes of the second half. Utah appeared to regain control when Plouffe drilled two three-pointers to build a 42-29 lead at the 15-minute mark.
Utah's lead ballooned back to 15 points (60-45) with just 2:25 left when Wicijowski completed a three-point play from the foul line and later knocked down a three-pointer.
But Utah struggled to score in the stretch run and Hawaii scored 11 unanswered points, aided by four Utah turnovers, to make it a two-possession game, 60-56, with 23 seconds remaining. The Rainbow Wahine fouled Wicijowski with 18 seconds left and she sank two free throws to push the Utah lead to six, but the Utes came down and fouled Hawaii's Destiny King, who also hit a pair from the charity stripe to cut the lead to four.
Hawaii resorted to fouling in the closing seconds and Utah didn't capitalize as Rachel Messer missed the front end of a one-and-one with 11 seconds left. Hawaii's Vicky Tagalicod hit a three to cut the lead to one with six seconds left and the Rainbow Wahine immediately fouled Plouffe on the inbounds play. Plouffe missed her first free throw, but she blocked a last-second heave on the other end of the floor to secure the win.
The Utes struggled right out of the gate with Hawaii taking a 7-2 lead in the opening four minutes, but soon hit their rhythm scoring eight unanswered points to take a 10-7 lead. Hawaii would score just 11 more points the remainder of the half, as the Utes led 34-18 at halftime. Wicijowski had 12 first-half points while Rodrigues tallied nine with five rebounds.
Utah had a large cheering section, with Rodrigues' family coming out in full force to support the Utes.
"It's so great for Iwa to get to come back here and play in front of her family," Levrets said. "I told all of them they better get to Salt Lake in May when she graduates. That's the biggest part of all this. The basketball is important, but she's going to walk out of here with a great degree from a great university, and it's a tremendous thing for her in her life.
"This has been an incredible experience, coming over here. The way we were treated by everyone and the feeling of being here in front of Iwa's family, it's been a wonderful time."
The Utes take the week to recuperate from the long trip before returning home on Saturday, Dec. 8, to face in-state rival BYU.