Taryn Wicijowski led Utah with 20 points. She also had nine rebounds.
Nov. 13, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY - Led by a double-double from Michelle Plouffe and 20 points from Taryn Wicijowski, the Utah women's basketball team made a second half rally to defeat Southern Utah, 74-60 in their season opener on Sunday evening.
Southern Utah took a 30-28 lead into halftime and the score continued to go back and forth through the second half. Utah held a one-point lead with 11 minutes remaining, 40-39 before they began to take control with a 12-2 run that started with a steal by Janita Badon and subsequent layup from Chelsea Bridgewater. Wicijowski had five points of the run, including a three-point play when she was fouled on a shot, while Iwalani Rodrigues also hit a three-pointer in the run for a 52-41 lead.
Southern Utah was able to rally with a six-point run led by free throws to cut the lead back down to five, 52-47 with six minutes left, before the Utes reeled off a 9-0 run to go back ahead by double digits, 61-47. Janita Badon hit five of six free throws in the span, while Diana Rolniak capped the drive with a layup. The Utes would continue to pull ahead as the clock ran down.
Utah scored 15 points off SUU turnovers and shot 53-percent from the field in the second half.
"Most of the points they got in the first half was from transition plays," Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said of Utah's play on defense. "We were so tired we couldn't get back and gave up some easy stuff. In the second half, the difference was our energy, pressure on the ball, contesting shots, and Janita making plays on the other end. Our principles were really good during that time and we just competed and said it was time to lock it down."
In the first half, the score was tied five times with four lead changes. Messer scored all 10 of her points in the first half.
"I'm really proud of the way the group played in the first half," Levrets said. "We only had seven bodies available due to health reasons and my reasons, and no guards to come off the bench. I'm just really pleased with the way we played. Rachel hasn't played point guard in a game or practice in a long time, and we asked her to do it and that's just the kind of kid she is. She has that kind of basketball IQ."
Utah goes on the road for the next two weeks, beginning with a two-game swing through Michigan (Nov. 17) and Arkansas (Nov. 20).