SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah women’s basketball team inched its current winning streak to two games Wednesday night. The Utes defeated visiting Colorado, 58-55, in yet another down-to-the-wire contest at the Huntsman Center.
After starting Pac-12 play on a five-game losing streak, the Utes are pleased with their second consecutive win, which is part of a three-wins-in-four-games turnaround.
“(This was a) great team win. Much-needed,” head coach Anthony Levrets said. “We feel like we’re back and healthy as we’re going to be, back in the flow of what normal student-athlete life is for our whole team.”
The Utes (10-10, 3-6) showed their maturity from the start of conference through executing in the final minutes. Facing a four-point deficit, 52-48, with just 3:48 remaining, forward Michelle Plouffe and guards Cheyenne Wilson and Ciera Dunbar drew fouls and hit key shots to rally.
“We don’t feel like we’re a bad basketball team. We feel like we went through a hard stretch in a lot of ways and that we’re going to continue to get better and play our best basketball at the end of the season.”
Utah established its dominance on the defensive end early in the game, ultimately forcing Colorado to miss all seven 3-point attempts and turn the ball over 16 times. However, it was hitting shots — rewarding that strong defense — that finally came alive late in the first half.
“(There were) a bunch of very unselfish play at the (offensive) end,” Levrets said of the turn on offense. “We were getting plenty of stops defensively. What we needed was a basket.
“We ran a little play and thought we were going to get Plouffe a shot and they rotated off Chey (Wilson), and Plouffe made the extra pass and Chey hit that 3,” Levrets said. “That’s very unselfish play by an all-American to make the next pass and even more of a big-time play by a kid who we needed to make a basket. Chey making that shot was huge, and it just gives you a little burst at the other end.”
Wilson went on to finish 3 of 4 from the floor, all of them 3-pointers, and 2 for 2 from the foul line. She grabbed three rebounds, dished out seven assists and only turned the ball over once.
Plouffe led the team with 14 points, moving to No. 5 all time and passing current assistant coach Morgan Warburton with 1,886 career points. She is also second all-time in rebounding at Utah.
Guard Brittany Wilson led Colorado with 22 points and Jamee Swan scored 15 points.
“A big win against Arizona (on Sunday) and now this tonight,” said Levrets. “In no way, shape or form are we a perfect, seamless group right now, but we’re getting better and we have enough parts to win basketball games.”
The Utes travel to Colorado on Sunday and then visit Oregon and Oregon State the following weekend. Utah will be back at the Huntsman Center Feb. 14 to play Washington State.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.
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