Utes win, advance to Elite 8 of WNIT

Published: Friday, March 29 2013 12:40 a.m. MDT

Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski combined for 49 points and 32 rebounds as the Utah women's basketball team defeated Pacific in overtime, 60-55, on Thursday evening in the third round of the WNIT.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

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STOCKTON, Calif. — Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski combined for 49 points and 32 rebounds as the Utah women's basketball team defeated Pacific in overtime, 60-55, on Thursday evening in the third round of the WNIT.

Utah will travel to Saint Mary's for the quarterfinals of the WNIT. The Utes face the Gaels on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Pacific led by three, 48-45 with 25 seconds remaining in the second half but Plouffe nailed a three-pointer to tie the game with 14 seconds left on the clock. Pacific was unable to connect on two shots in the final seconds, pushing the game to overtime.

Free throws and solid defense led the Utes in overtime.

Pacific's Kendall Kenyon hit a jumper with two minutes left to tie the game at 55-55, but the Utes held the Tigers scoreless the remainder of the way.

Wicijowski made a heavily contested layup with a minute left to give the Utes the lead for good at 57-55, and Pacific would miss three field goals and two free throws in the final minute of OT.

Plouffe went 3-of-4 from the free throw line in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory.

Plouffe had her 11th double-double of the year with 26 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. Wicijowski recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

The Utes were buoyed by free throws, going 21-of-26 from the charity stripe. Utah outrebounded Pacific, 55-36, and held the Tigers to a season-low 26 percent shooting.

Pacific took advantage of Utah turnovers to stay in the game. The Tigers converted 22 Utah turnovers into 28 points.

"I am really proud of our team," Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. "We played an exceptional game tonight. The numbers say that Taryn and Plouffe had a great game, and they made some big plays down the stretch, but this was a team win. Every single person did their job at both ends of the floor. While those two had the numbers, everyone else did a great job. It's a great team win.

"I thought our kids did an unbelievable job defending their personnel and making them have to earn baskets. We also cleaned up on the glass, and it was huge on that end of the floor which allowed us to make some offensive plays."

Utah started off the game strong, taking a 16-6 lead through the first seven minutes of the first half.

Utah led by as many as 11 points in the first half, 19-8, before the tide turned in favor of the Tigers, as they closed the half on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 19-19.

Plouffe had a double-double by halftime, scoring 13 points with 12 rebounds. Wicijowski played just eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.

In the second half, the score was tied six times with seven lead changes. Pacific held its largest lead of the game at 43-37 with six minutes left to play.

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