Utah guard Shona Thorburn celebrates as she leaves the court in the second half of Utah's 84-60 victory over BYU to win the championship title in the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament in Denver on Saturday, March 11, 2006. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
March 11, 2006
Larsen scored a career-high 24 points and Thorburn, a fellow senior, recorded the first triple-double in the 7-year history of the league.
Thorburn's 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds earned her tournament Most Valuable Player honors, and Larsen was 6-of-7 on 3-pointers in helping secure the Mountain West's automatic NCAA tournament bid for the second-seeded Utes (24-6).
The regular-season champion Cougars (25-5) will be joining their archrivals in the postseason party, and neither team would mind returning to the Pepsi Center for the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament next week.
The title game pitted the conference's co-players of the year, Utah's Kim Smith and BYU's Ambrosia Anderson. They both started slowly with Smith not getting her first basket until 13:50 was left in the first half, and Anderson netting her first 90 seconds later.
Smith finished with 14 points, and Anderson had 11.
The Cougars fell behind by nine points in the early going but recovered with their only accurate stretch from the perimeter. The Utes restored their cushion behind Larsen's 19 first-half points, including a 5-for-5 performance from beyond the arc.
Larsen's 3 just before the buzzer gave the Utes a 44-33 lead at the half and their lead never dipped below double digits in the final 20 minutes. Utah led by as many as 27 over the top-seeded Cougars.