Kalee Whipple pulls down a rebound against San Diego State.
March 18, 2009
Sunday, March 22, Noon (ET) - College Park, Md. (Comcast Center)
Radio: KALL 700 (Play-by-Play by Chris Tunis)
TV: ESPN2 (Commentary by Mike Patrick and Deb Antonelli)
Live stats available at UtahUtes.com
Watch live at ESPN360.com
SALT LAKE CITY - No. 9 seeded Utah will head to College Park, Md., to face No. 8 seed Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Should the Utes win, they would play the winner of No. 1 seeded Atlantic Coast Conference champion Maryland (28-4) and No. 16 seeded Ivy League champion Dartmouth (18-10) on March 24.
Utah is making its 16th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its fourth in the last five years. Those appearances are highlighted by an Elite Eight run in 2006 as well as a Sweet 16 appearance in 2001. The Utes are 8-15 overall in the tournament.
Villanova heads into the NCAA Tournament with a 19-13 overall record after going 10-6 during regular season BIG EAST games and finishing fourth in the conference. The team is led by senior forward Laura Kurz, who was a first-team All-BIG EAST selection. She is averaging 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Villanova is making its first NCAA appearance since 2004.
Utah has never faced Villanova or Dartmouth in women's basketball, but in 2006, eventual national champion Maryland knocked the Utes out of the tournament in overtime, 75-65. Morgan Warburton was the only current Ute to play in that game, scoring 11 points.
Utah is coming off its third Mountain West Conference championship. After receiving a bye through to the semifinal round as the No. 1 seed, Utah executed a pair of comeback victories.
Against New Mexico in the semifinals, Morgan Warburton's bucket with 2.7 seconds remaining completed a 16-point comeback to give Utah a 56-55 victory. Kalee Whipple had a team-high 14 points and eight rebounds while Utah's bench had 17 points, including 12 points from Sasha McKinnon and Josi McDermott.
Warburton and Whipple combined for 45 points to lead the Utes over San Diego State, 63-58. Although Utah trailed most of the second half, 11 consecutive points over a 3.5 minute stretch that was culminated by a Warburton three to pull the Utes ahead.
Warburton and Whipple were both named to the all-tournament team while Warburton earned MVP honors.
National honors are starting to come in. This week, Warburton was named as a regional finalist for the 2009 NCAA Division I State Farm Coaches' All-America Basketball Team by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). In addition, head coach Elaine Elliott has been named as the Region 7 Coach of the Year.