DENVER (AP) -- The Utah Utes were looking for balance as much as
a trophy at the Mountain West Conference championship, and they
discovered that key ingredient just in time for the NCAA tournament
-- while adding some fuel to their bitter rivalry with Brigham
Julie Larsen and Shona Thorburn stole the show from a pair of
co-MVPs and led No. 19 Utah past No. 20 BYU 84-60 Saturday, a
surprisingly one-sided showdown between the archrivals that
generated some bad blood between the coaches.
BYU's Jeff Judkins angrily accused Utah coach Elaine Elliott of
running up the score on the league's regular-season champs.
Judkins gathered his team just before they shook hands with the
victors and told them to remember how the Utes poured it on until
the very end, leaving their starters in to get more baskets and
"I told them remember the classy way that we handled it and the
unclassy way that Utah handled it. They did it the whole year,"
Judkins said. "When you're up 25 points, you pull your starters
out with 1:54 left in the game. It's a classy way. You don't need
to rub it in. That's what I told Coach Elliott.
"I said, 'Congratulations, you played very well. But I don't
know why you need to leave your starters in with 1:54 left in the
game. I don't understand that.' That's not the classy way of doing
it. ... I coached with (Rick) Majerus, who was classy that way.
That's the way I coach. And she got all mad at that."
Elliott had her own retort in the postgame news conference.
"Apparently, he accused me of running up the score. In a
championship game. Division I level. Against the reigning
regular-season champions," Elliott said. "You take that for what
it's worth. I was just waiting for them to come back."
The Cougars never showed any sort of comeback spirit.
Larsen scored a career-high 24 points and Thorburn, a fellow
senior, recorded the first triple-double in the seven-year history
of the league.
"What a time to get it," said Thorburn, whose 15 points, 11
assists and 10 rebounds earned her tournament Most Valuable Player
honors as she helped secure the Mountain West's automatic NCAA
tournament bid for the second-seeded Utes (24-6).
The Cougars (25-5) will be joining their archrivals in the
postseason party but they'll have to put this drubbing behind them
quickly to regain the swagger they had all year before it
inexplicably left them Saturday, when they never grabbed a lead.
The title game pitted the conference's co-players of the year,
Utah's Kim Smith and BYU's Ambrosia Anderson. They both started
slowly with Smith not getting her first basket until 13:50 was left
in the first half, and Anderson netting her first 90 seconds later.
Smith finished with 14 points, and Anderson had 11.
Dani Kubik led BYU with 12 points. Morgan Warburton added 12
points for Utah and Jessica Perry scored 10. Larsen had tied her
career high of 19 points by halftime when her fifth 3-pointer gave
the Utes a 44-33 lead at the half.
Utah led by as many as 27 over the top-seeded Cougars, and the
Utes' 84 points were the most ever in a Mountain West Conference
tournament game, something that didn't sit well with Judkins.
"I probably shouldn't have lost my cool, but you know I have a
right to get mad once in a while," he said.