The University of Utah Lady Utes will meet Creighton University this afternoon in the finals of the women's Western Athletic Conference post-season basketball tournament.
Utah, 19-9, defeated Wyoming 74-62, and Creighton, 22-6, defeated San Diego State 78-75 in Friday's semfinals.Creighton and Utah finished 1-2 in the regular-season standings. Creighton has beaten Utah twice in as many tries this season, by three and five points.
"We're really excited, who wouldn't be?" said Ute coach Elaine Elliott. "We were disappointed we didn't win the conference championship."
In beating third-seeded Wyoming for the third time this year, the Utes were led by guards Melanee Brooks-McQueen and Karen Alcorn, who combined to make 13 of 28 shots, 36 points, 9 assists and 6 steals. Sophomore Mikki Kane finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
After leading most of the first half - by as many as seven points at one point - the Utes found themselves trailing 30-29 at halftime.
"In the first half, they played harder than we did," said Elliott. "We talked about these things at halftime, playing harder. In the second half, that did not happen."
Indeed, Alcorn took her own steal in for a score to start the second half, triggering a 14-4 run by Utah. The Utes never trailed again, as they built their lead to 15 points.
"This game was well-contested," said Elliott. "These are probably the two best defensive teams . . . in the WAC. That's why Melanee was the key. They don't defend her. They dare her to beat them."
Brooks-McQueen, who averages just 7.6 points per game, finished with 21 against the Cowgirls.
"Their whole strategy is to sag off me and then come at me when I get the ball," she said. "We knew what they were going to do, and we got some shots to go down."
The Utes shot just 43.4 percent from the field, but they outrebounded the Cowgirls 38-29 and forced 16 turnovers.
The Utes have won nine of their last 10 games, their lone loss coming to Creighton.