Double-doubles for Utes' Mitchell, Whipple too much for Cowgirls

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Leilani Mitchell had 19 points and 13 assists to help Utah (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) beat Wyoming 67-53 on Sunday, giving the Utes the Mountain West regular-season title and their 20th straight victory.

"A regular season championship isn't easy," Utah coach Elaine Elliott said. "You saw a great Wyoming team that we had to compete with this year. When it happens, it really does mean a lot."

Kalee Whipple added 16 points and 10 rebounds. She banked a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to cap an 11-4 run, which gave Utah (25-3, 14-0 Mountain West) a 48-34 lead with less than 11 minutes remaining. The Cowgirls (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) never recovered.

This is the first time Utah has played a ranked opponent since it cracked the Top 25 on Feb. 4. Morgan Warburton and Jessica Perry added 12 and 10 points respectively for the Utes.

"People picked us to finish fifth in the conference this year," said Warburton. "But we didn't give up. We worked real hard in the summer and it paid off."

In January, Utah needed a last-second 3-pointer to beat the Cowgirls 60-59 in Laramie. Utah has a 55-8 record against Wyoming and is 28-2 at home.

"When you play a team as good as Utah, you really need to make more stops defensively. We didn't do as well as we hoped on defense today and that hurt us," Wyoming coach Joe Legerski said. "Hats off to Utah, they've won 20 games in a row and are deserving of all the accomplishments they've had this season."

Jodi Bolerjack led the Cowgirls with 15 points, Aubrey Vandiver had 12 points and Hanna Zavecz scored 11.

Both offenses ground to a halt to start the second half. Wyoming's Hanna Zavecz hit a 3-pointer for the first field goal by either team, which cut Utah's lead to 35-30.

Then Utah made it's run to secure the win.

Whipple hit a cutting Mitchell for an easy layup to cap an 8-4 run to take a 45-34 lead with 12:00 remaining. Then Utah's interior defense stifled the Cowgirls. Wyoming only had 16 points in the paint compared to Utah's 26.

Utah opened the game with aggression. The Utes took an early 15-4 lead at the 13 minute mark.

But Wyoming answered with a 9-2 run to make it 17-14 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Utah outscored Wyoming 15-12 the rest of the way, behind 10 first half assists from Mitchell, to take a 32-26 lead. Bolerjack kept the Cowboys close in the first half with four 3-pointers, Wyoming's only points in the last 10 minutes.

Utah plays Wednesday at Colorado State and closes the regular season Saturday at home against UNLV.