SALT LAKE CITY — It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
For those on hand to watch the Utah women's basketball team take on Houston Baptist at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Saturday afternoon, there was very little about the game that was beautiful.
Except that the Utes won, 71-33, improving their record to 8-1 on the season.
"I have been coaching (college basketball) for 16 years and I have never seen a good first half after finals," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "They just don't exist."
Houston Baptist (2-9) committed 17 turnovers in the first half and had 21 total, and the visitors cast up numerous air balls that Utah rebounded and committed multiple offensive fouls. Those miscues led to 16 points for the Utes.
Utah added to the turnover total with nine of its own. The Utes shot just 30.3 percent in the first half while the Huskies countered with 33.3 percent, making just 6-of-18 shots.
The Utes began to pull away for the lopsided victory midway through the first half. Houston Baptist pulled to within two points, 15-13, when Tayler Jefferson scored with 13:10 left on the clock, but the Huskies only scored once more the rest of the period.
In spite of its shooting woes inside the key, Utah scored 14 points in the final 13 minutes of the half to create a 28-15 advantage at the midpoint.
The second half was more of the same for the Huskies, while the Utes built on their lead with improved defense, ball control and shot selection.
"I was really proud of how we went in at halftime and came back out with so much more energy defensively," Levrets added. "We played the way that we needed to play defensively, which translates for us into offensive production."
The Utes shot 51.4 percent and scored 43 points while holding the Huskies to 23.3-percent shooting and just 18 points across the final 20 minutes
All 11 Utah players who got on the floor contributed in the win, including a big night from freshman point guard Dani Rodriguez.
"Houston Baptist tried to do what BYU did by playing off of her to start the game, but she knocked down a 3-pointer and went to the basket a couple of times and made some plays," Levrets said, noting that Rodriguez shot 3-for-5 from the floor, including two 3s, and had 10 points, three assists and a steal.
Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski had 16 points apiece and grabbed eight and seven rebounds, respectively, to lead the Ute offense.
Utah will be back on the court Thursday to host UC Irvine at 7 p.m.
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