Shona Thorburn scored a game- and season-high 25 points Saturday. She led the Utes to a 73-62 win over No. 23 N.C. State. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Dec. 17, 2005
LAS VEGAS -- The No. 21/22 University of Utah women's basketball team got season-high performances from seniors Shona Thorburn and Kim Smith Saturday at the Duel in the Desert tournament at UNLV's Cox Pavillion. Thorburn scored 25 points, while Smith tallied 22 to lead the Utes over No. 23 North Carolina State, 73-62.
Utah pulled away in the second half to take the victory. The two nationally-ranked squads were tied at 33-33 at the halftime break. N.C. State took a four-point lead early in the second half when Keisha Brown hit a three-pointer for the Wolfpack.
The Utes trailed 42-38 after that trey, but exploded for an 11-0 spurt to take control of the contest. Smith hit 1-of-2 from the line, then Julie Larsen tied the game at 42-42 with one of her four three-pointers. Thorburn followed with another trey to give Utah the lead. Layups from Jessica Perry and Smith capped the run, which left the Utes on top 49-42 with 12:05 to play.
N.C. State got back within three, scoring the next four points. But Utah outscored the Wolfpack 7-1 over the next two minutes. Thorburn hit one of her five three-pointers at the 9:13 mark to put Utah up by nine, 56-47.
N.C. State got a three-pointer from Brown with 4:36 remaining, pulling within seven, 65-58. But that's as close as the Wolfpack would get. Thorburn and Smith each converted a pair of free throws to push Utah's lead back into double digits. Thorburn's fifth three-pointer of the contest put Utah up by 14, 72-58, with 1:24 left and iced the victory.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair. The two teams traded the lead seven times. Utah built a nine-point lead with just more than six minutes left in the half. But N.C. State answered with a 10-0 run to grab the lead. Billie McDowell's three-pointer with just less than a minute left in the half put the Wolfpack up 33-29. But the Utes scored the last four points of the half, including Thorburn's 15-foot buzzer-beater, to knot it up at the intermission.
The Utes face either No. 13/14 Notre Dame or Arkansas State at 2:30 p.m. (PST) Sunday for the Duel in the Desert tournament title.