5:00 PM ET, February 9, 2008
SALT LAKE CITY -- Another year, another 20 wins for Utah coach Elaine Elliott.The Utes (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) locked up their fifth straight 20-win season by beating Air Force 66-49 on Saturday, extending their winning streak to 15 in a row. The Utes have won at least 20 games in 18 of Elliott's 25 seasons and reached the milestone this year with another month left in the regular season. Utah (20-3, 9-0) hasn't lost in more than two months. "It sure feels good," Elliott said. Leilani Mitchell led Utah with 19 points and 10 assists for her second straight double-double and third of the season. "Twenty wins is a big step for us," Leilani Mitchell said. "But we still have a whole month of playing basketball." With the win, the Utes became the first team in Mountain West history to win 100 league games and are a perfect 25-0 against Air Force. Air Force (7-14, 1-8) coach Ardie McInelly knew what she was facing Saturday. "They just have so many weapons," she said. "If you try to concentrate on a perimeter player, they've got some post players that will step up and do a nice job of slipping to the basket." McInelly said her players tried to some of the things they don't normally do in games. It showed as Utah forced 18 turnovers which sparked Utah's first half lead. Utah started the game slowly, going 8-for-18 and were only up by two points with about 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Then the Utes started hitting some shots. "Maybe we weren't aggressive in the first half," Mitchell said. "Our focus wasn't as high, but there's no excuse. We're going to get their best shot and we expect that from teams." Utah, sparked by defensive effort, shot 8-for-9 for the rest of the half and led 40-25 after Mitchell hit a jumper in the key at the buzzer. Air Force would never get back in the game. Jessica Perry scored 12 points and Morgan Warburton finished with 11 points for the Utes, who haven't lost since Dec. 3. Utah committing just seven turnovers and was 16-for-27 in the first half. The Utes cooled off in the second half, but still were never threatened by the Falcons (7-14, 1-8). Brooke Cultra led Air Force with 13 points and Raimee Beck scored 12. The Falcons came out aggressive in the second half, but never made much of a dent in Utah's lead. Air Force pulled within 13 on Beck's 3-pointer with about 16 minutes left, but Utah answered with two quick 3s from Kalee Whipple and Warburton. Both teams went about three minutes in the second half without hitting a shot until Perry and Deanne Stevenson scored back-to-back hoops to bring the lead to 53-32. Utah's defense continued to confuse Air Force. The Falcons couldn't get the ball inside and were forced to shoot from long range. Whipple had nine points and 10 rebounds. Warburton finished with 11 points.
|FG Made-Attempted||21-49 (.429)||26-56 (.464)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-16 (.313)||6-20 (.300)|
|FT Made-Attempted||5-7 (.714)||13-17 (.765)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||13 (0/0)||8 (0/0)|