The University of Utah Lady Utes will meet Southern Cal tonight in Los Angeles in the the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament.
The Lady Utes, winners in 10 of their last 11 games, have been eliminated in the first round in all three of their previous NCAA appearances.In tonight's game, which will begin at 5 p.m. MST, the Utes' biggest challenge will be stopping 6-foot-5 Lisa Leslie, USC's all-Pac 10 freshman center. Leslie averages 19.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Utah, 20-9, is the 12th and final seed in the West Regional; Southern Cal, 17-11, is the fifth seed. The winner of tonight's game will meet fourth-seeded Cal State-Long Beach on March 16 in Long Beach.
Utah's lineup consists of 5-10 forward Brenda Alcorn (7.8 points per game, 4.7 rebounds), 6-foot forward Mikki Kane (13.2, 6.1), 6-2 center Tanya Zachary (13.1, 10.2), 5-7 guard Karen Alcorn (16.1, 3.2) and 5-5 guard Melanee Brooks-McQueen (8.2, 2.9). All except Kane are juniors.
Kane, who replaced all-conference senior Kristi Smith after Smith left the team at midseason, averaged 17.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in conference play. She and Karen Alcorn were both voted to the all-WAC first team.
USC's lineup consists of 6-1 forward Molly Keenan (10.3, 6.1), 6-foot forward Jualeah Woods (5.5, 4.0), Leslie, 5-8 guard Tammy Story (13.9, 5.4) and 5-11 guard Joni Easterly. Both Leslie and Woods are freshmen and Easterly is a sophomore.
Utah is coached by Elaine Elliott, who owns a record of 159-73 in eight years with the Utes; USC is coached by Marianne Stanley, who is 25-30 in two years with the Trojans, but a winner of three national titles while coaching at Old Dominion.