Taryn Wicijowski had 16 points and seven rebounds, and led the Utes with a career-high seven assists against Denver.
Nov. 10, 2012
DENVER - Michelle Plouffe, an honorable mention AP All-American a year ago, scored 29 points to lead the Utah women's basketball team to 75-60 season-opening win over the University of Denver on Saturday afternoon at Magness Arena.
Plouffe had her 14th career 20-point game--missing her career high of 30 by a single point--and tied a career best by going 5-for-8 from three-point range. The junior forward, who spent the summer playing with the Canadian Olympic Team, also led the Utes with eight rebounds.
"I'm really pleased," said Ute head coach Anthony Levrets. "It was the first game of the year, playing against a team under a new head coach, and we didn't have any kind of a scout on this team. Denver is a scrappy group that plays incredibly hard and incredibly well together. We didn't come in here and play the best basketball that we're going to play later in the year, but we certainly played well enough to win and I'm proud of our effort."
Utah shot 51 percent from the floor and hit 8-of-19 three-point field goals. Utah also held Denver to 42 percent shooting and just 1-for-7 from long range, and had a 33-32 edge on the boards.
The Pioneers were led by 12 points and eight rebounds from junior forward Maiya Michel. Morgan Van Riper-Rose had 11 points and Jordan Johnston finished with 10.
After leading 34-27 at halftime, Utah blew the game open with a 22-8 run over the first eight minutes of the second half.
"She can do it all," said Levrets of Plouffe's effort. "As we saw tonight, she can hit shots from all over the floor. It's pretty obvious that both of our bigs are pretty talented.
"Taryn Wicijowski really gave a great performance," Levrets continued. "She has really worked on her jump shot. You ask a kid to improve their game and put the time in, and I've told everybody she's our most improved player after being pretty darn good already. More than just shooting the ball, she's a pretty good passer and led us in assists after playing out of a lot of double teams."
After consecutive buckets by Denver to draw within 46-35, Utah scored the next 10 points to take a 56-35 lead with 12:17 remaining. The Utes hit 10 of their first 12 shots of the second half, including 4-of-5 three-pointers.
Utah improved to 3-0 in openers under head coach Anthony Levrets, including two victories on the road after getting a win at SMU in 2010-11.
The Utes return four starters this season, starting two seniors and two juniors next to freshman point guard Danielle Rodriguez. Redshirt sophomore Ciera Dunbar also played 19 minutes at the point as Rodriguez got into early foul trouble.
"This preseason is all about us getting ourselves comfortable together, but bringing those young kids along because we need them to grow up quickly," said Levrets. "I thought both Ciera and Danielle for the most part did a nice job of running the offense and getting us into stuff."
Utah plays its next three games at home, beginning with Southern Utah on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.