As far as homecomings are concerned, the Utah women's basketball team is making a short one.

After playing three games in Hawaii over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Utes return to the Huntsman Center today to face South Dakota State. On Saturday, they'll begin a three-game road swing featuring stops at Fresno State, USC and Minnesota.

"Scheduling isn't always a perfect science," acknowledged head coach Elaine Elliott, who explained that her squad is playing a challenging schedule to build a strong RPI.

"If we can get a couple of wins it'll be fruitful in the end," she said. "We have to try and perform and get a couple of them."

Utah nearly picked up a big win earlier this month — putting a scare into No. 5 Stanford before dropping an 81-77 decision in double overtime.

The Utes' only other loss this season came at the Oahu Classic. After a 70-66 overtime setback to Marist, they knocked off Akron (71-60) and Nebraska (56-44).

The wins, coupled with a season-opening victory over UC Irvine, has Utah sporting a 3-2 record.

"I'm pleased with what they're doing," said Elliott, who likes how her team is competing despite letting a pair of games slip away.

Point guard Leilani Mitchell was named co-Mountain West Conference Player of the Week after being named to the all-tournament team in Hawaii. She was joined on the squad by teammate Morgan Warburton.

Kalee Whipple also played well in Oahu. She netted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the victory over Nebraska.

South Dakota State, meanwhile, comes to town with a 5-1 record. The Jackrabbits have posted victories over Arkansas State, UC Riverside, Oregon, Missouri and Southern Illinois.

Utes on the air

South Dakota State (5-1) at Utah (3-2)

Huntsman Center

Today, 7 p.m.

TV: None

Radio: 700AM

E-mail: [email protected]