All the Utah women's basketball team had riding on Saturday's game against Colorado State was a possible WAC division title, a first-round bye in the league tournament, Coach Elaine Elliott's 300th victory and WAC Mountain Division leader Colorado State to worry about. Oh, and it was also the last regular-season home game for five Ute seniors.
Other than that, it was just like any other game.Utah beat the Rams 67-53 on Saturday afternoon, bringing its record to 19-3 overall and 9-3 in the WAC. It was perhaps the biggest game any of the Ute seniors have ever played, the the results could not have been any sweeter.
"I've never been in a game that had so much riding on it," said Elliott. "We needed to win if we wanted a chance for the WAC (division championship). It was senior day and it was a chance for my 300th win. Plus, to top it all off, it was Valentine's Day. It was funny how everything played out."
Heck, the entire fate of the universe might as well have been thrown on the Utes' shoulders. They could've taken it.
After trailing 28-23 at halftime, the Utes put together their most inspired 20 minutes of the season. Unfortunately for the Rams, they had to be there to watch.
Alli Bills hit a 3-pointer with 17:43 left, starting a 42-21 run by the Utes that lasted until the final buzzer.
Amy Alcorn hit a 16-footer from the baseline, giving the Utes the lead for good, 47-45, with 7:29 to play. From there, Julie Krom-men-hoek and Bills, both seniors, combined to score 17 of Utah's final 20 points.
A fitting end indeed.
"We were so emotional that second half, I don't think they could keep up with us," said Bills, who finished with 12 points and 11 assists. "We wanted the win so bad our emotions just took over."
In the first half, though, the Utes' emotions were getting the best of them. They came out flat, shooting only 34 percent. Fortunately for them, Colorado State only hit on 38 percent of its shots, allowing the Utes to stay within range.
If Utah wins both its games at UNLV and Air Force this week, it will finish no worse than in a tie for first place in the Mountain Division.
"Everything we were playing for was on the line tonight," said Angie Thill. "We did it. That's all I can say."
That's all she needed to say.