Shona Thorburn and her Ute teammates face Gonzaga Saturday afternoon.
Dec. 9, 2005
University of Utah (5-1) vs. Gonzaga (3-6)
3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005 - Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Radio: Hot Ticket 700
Audio/Video Stream - www.UtahUtes.com
Utes Wrap Up Homestand, Host Gonzaga
The No. 22/23-ranked University of Utah women's basketball team wraps up its four-game homestand in the friendly confines of the Jon M. Huntsman Center Saturday. The Utes will play host to Gonzaga University in a 3 p.m. contest.
Utah has won four straight coming into the contest with the Bulldogs. The Utes current winning streak started with a win against Arizona on the road, then continued with home wins over Oregon State, Loyola Marymount and Weber State.
Shona Thorburn led Utah to victory over Weber State Wednesday night. The senior guard tallied game-high totals for points (15), rebounds (8) and assists (6). Julie Larsen scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half and Kim Smith tallied 10 points.
Gonzaga is coming off a 73-54 loss at the hands of Sacramento State Tuesday in Sacramento, Calif. GU led the Hornets 30-28 at halftime. But Sac State shot 48 percent and made 20 trips to the free-throw line in the second half, outscoring the Bulldogs 45-24 in the second half.
Utah leads the series with Gonzaga, 3-1.
From Way Downtown ... Bang
Utah averages more three-pointers per game than any other team in the Mountain West Conference. Through their first six games, the Utes are hitting 6.8 shots per game from behind the arc. While Utah is the most prolific three-point shooting team, its three-point percentage is smack-dab in the middle of the pack. The Utes rank No. 5 in the conference, hitting at a .318 clip.
Last year, Utah was one of the more prolific three-point shooting teams in the nation. The 2004-05 squad made nearly seven (6.9) treys per game, ranking No. 15 in the nation in three-pointers made per game. That number was also good enough to rank second in the MWC, just behind Wyoming's mark of 7.14.
Defensive Numbers Dropping
Utah has traditionally been one of the top defensive teams in the country. The Utes are on their way to another strong defensive season. In its first six contests, Utah has allowed an average of just 51.7 points per game, which ranks No. 2 in the MWC. Opponents are shooting .352 from the field (No. 3 in the MWC) and a paltry .286 from three-point range (No. 3 in the MWC) against the Utes.
The Utes led the nation in scoring defense in three of the past six seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03). They have ranked in the top 10 in five of the last six years. Last season, Utah ranked second in the Mountain West Conference and 27th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 55.7 points per game.
Smith's Streak Survives
Senior forward Kim Smith had scored in double figures for 44 consecutive games coming into Wednesday night's matchup with Weber State. Smith began the night 0-for-9 from the field and went into the locker room at halftime with just four free throws to her credit.
Smith extended her streak to 45 games with just more than four minutes to go Wednesday, hitting a jumper in the lane to give her 10 points. Despite a 2-of-11 shooting night, Smith contributed elsewhere. She pulled down five rebounds, dished out three assists, made two steals and took at least one charge.
The Big Sho
Senior guard Shona Thorburn had struggled with her shooting through the first five games of the season. Coming into Wednesday night's game with Weber State, Thorburn was shooting just .292 (14-of-48) from the field and .545 (12-of-22) from the free-throw line.
Thorburn may have turned things around in the win over the Wildcats. She was 5-of-8 from the field and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe. It was the first time this season that Thorburn made more than half her field-goal attempts. In the game, she led Utah in scoring (15), rebounds (8) and assists (6).