SAN DIEGO (AP) -- After a lackluster first half, it didn't take long for Utah (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No.19 AP) to take control.
Utah stepped up its defensive pressure and ran a more precision offense that led to easy baskets in the second half as the Utes pulled away for a 63-51 win over San Diego State on Saturday.The victory was Utah's 16th straight, tying idle Chattanooga for the nation's longest active winning streak."This was not a pretty game," Utes coach Elaine Elliott said. "They didn't play well, either. It was not a well-played game. I was disturbed by the lack of intelligence in the game."Utah (21-3, 10-0 Mountain West) had 19 turnovers, San Diego State finished with 21, and neither team shot well.Kalee Whipple led the Utes with 15 points and 11 rebounds. She scored five points during a 15-2 run over the first 9 1/2 minutes of the second half after the Utes trailed 26-24 at the break. Utah led 41-30 at the 8:30 mark after holding the Aztecs to just one field goal in the first 12 minutes of the half."The big thing was to pick up our defense," Whipple said. "We knew we needed to get tough on defense."Utah forced the Aztecs (13-10, 4-7) into 13 second-half turnovers.Morgan Warburton and Leilani Mitchell scored 15 points apiece for Utah, which won despite shooting just 38.5 percent from the field. The Utes were held to less than 40 percent shooting for only the second time this season."The first couple of possessions [of the second half] we came out and did really well," said Mitchell. "We made it really hard for them defensively."Jene Morris scored 13 points for San Diego State, which has lost 20 of 21 games to Utah. The Aztecs hit only 30.4 of its field-goal attempts."They have a great point guard [Mitchell]," San Diego State coach Beth Burns said. "That's why we trapped them, to make someone else make a decision."It worked late in the first half when San Diego State's pressure defense led to numerous turnovers and an 11-1 run in the final 6:32 that turned a 23-15 deficit into a 26-24 halftime lead.