Kim Smith scored 25 points to lead Utah over UNLV in Saturday's final regular-season game.
March 5, 2005
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The University of Utah women's basketball team won a share of the Mountain West Conference regular-season championship Saturday afternoon at Cox Pavillion. The Utes picked up a hard-fought, 61-55 victory over UNLV behind 25 points from junior forward Kim Smith.
Utah (23-6, 12-2 MWC) opened the second half on a 7-0 run. That outburst pushed a 12-point halftime lead to a 19-point edge, 45-26, three minutes into the second period. UNLV (15-13, 6-8 MWC) outscored Utah 11-2 over the next six minutes, pulling back within 10, 47-37.
Utah reasserted itself and pushed its lead back to 16 points midway through the second half when freshman forward Jessica Perry scored on a feed from sophomore guard Heidi Carlsen. But the Lady Rebels wouldn't go away. UNLV put together a 14-2 run over the next five minutes, pulling within four points. Sheena Moore hit a big three-pointer and RanDee Henry scored four during the Lady Rebel run, which left Utah with a 56-52 lead and just more than five minutes remaining.
With 2:44 remaining in the game, UNLV freshman Sequoia Holmes scored on a layup to get her squad within three points, 58-55. The Lady Rebels had two possessions to try to tie the game, but turned the ball over on one and missed a three-pointer on the other. Finally, with 37 seconds remaining Utah senior guard Lana Sitterud found Perry wide open under the basket for an easy layup to give the Utes a little breathing room, 60-55.
Moore missed a three-pointer and Henry was off the mark on a pair of free throws on the next Lady Rebel possession. Junior guard Shona Thorburn hit one-of-two from the free-throw line with 10 seconds remaining to account for the final score.
UNLV was led by Holmes' 13 points, while Moore scored 11 and Henry tacked on 10.
Utah will be the number-two seed in next week's Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Utes will play either Air Force or San Diego State in a 6 p.m. game Wednesday in Denver at the Pepsi Center.