Even before Scott Mitchell, there was another Utah County athlete who "got away" from BYU and enrolled at the University of Utah.

It was Lady Ute basketball star Cindy Lindsay, who will play her final game against the Cougars when the Lady Utes meet BYU Friday at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.Lindsay, a 6-2 forward, is the leading scorer and rebounder on a Lady Ute team that has quietly amassed a 17-4 record and a perfect 5-0 mark in the High Country Athletic Conference.

Four years ago Lindsay came out of Orem High School with every intention of going to BYU, a school she "grew up with."

"I always wanted to go to BYU and always had strong ties to BYU. I didn't know anything but BYU," says Lindsay.

But after her junior year of high school, her coach told her, "You know, Utah doesn't have a bad program," which she now says was "probably the wrong thing to say."

She got letters from Utah coaches who advised her to "have an open mind" about Utah. She did just that and made her decision to come to Utah primarily because of the coaches and the players and because "it felt like home."

Lady Ute Coach Elaine Elliott says she didn't realize at the time how strong Lindsay's ties were to BYU, but she knew she had her work cut out to get her to Salt Lake.

"We just showed her what the options were and that we had a lot to offer," she said. "We showed her that her lifestyle could fit in at the U. as well. We showed her that we wanted her and that's important to a lot of people."

Lindsay's first three years at Utah were nothing spectacular as she didn't quite live up to her potential. She had her occasional great game, but she started just 13 of 84 games averaging 5.8 points and 3.7 re-bounds.

This year it's been a different story, however. Lindsay leads the Lady Utes in scoring with a 14-point average and in rebounding with 6.7 boards a game. She also has 35 blocked shots, the third most in a season for a Lady Ute player. She's scored 30 points in two games, including a game against Wyoming three weeks ago when she was named HCAC player of the week.

"I think Cindy has finally decided to sit back and enjoy herself this year and not try to prove to people how good she is," says Elliott. "In the past she's always had to go against her own potential. Now she's comfortable with what she is and as a result is reaching the potential everyone knew she had."

Lindsay says confidence and maturation have been the biggest factors in her improved play this year.

Over the last four years, Lindsay has usually saved her best games for BYU. That was the case two weeks ago when she scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds in a 81-62 victory in Provo.

After losing her first two games against BYU in her freshman season, Lindsay has been on the winning side seven straight times against the Cougars and she'd like nothing better than to finish her career with No. 8 Friday.

"Sure it's extra motivation when we play them," she said. "In the past they've been the team to beat. We're always fired up and ready to go against BYU."

Lindsay says team togetherness has played a big factor in the Lady Utes' success. Guards Gina Butters and Melanie Brooks provide the outside scoring punch, while Stephie Watrin and Brenda Alcorn complement Lindsay inside. Kristi Smith, Leslie Carpenter and Karen Alcorn are the top reserves.

When she's not playing basketball, Lindsay enjoys writing poetry or playing the guitar. She throws the javelin for the track team and next year, when her basketball eligibility is up, she plans to compete for the volleyball team.

Lindsay says she never had any regrets about her decision to come to Utah. "You can always look back and wonder what would have happened, but you have to make your decision and live with it."

It's a decision she's lived with very well, much to the delight of the Lady Utes and their followers.