Utah's long-time dominance over Weber State in women's basketball could have made the Utes feel complacent or unmotivated heading into Friday night's contest at the Huntsman Center.
Don't the Wildcats wish.
Utah convincingly picked up its fifth consecutive victory over Weber State in a 71-45 rout on Friday night. It was the Utes' 12th win in the last 13 meetings in the series, and they improved their overall record against Weber State to 41-5.
The Utes put the Wildcats away with a brilliant first half. Utah allowed Weber State to make just six field goals and shoot 21 percent from the field in the game's first 20 minutes. The Utes held the Wildcats scoreless for close to eight minutes during one stretch that enabled them to build a 29-11 lead before halftime.
When asked if the Utes could play any better than they did in the first half of Friday's game, guard Leilani Mitchell said, "Probably not.
"We knew they would come out and play hard against us," Mitchell said. "We were focused on coming out strong and playing good defense. Luckily, we made shots. It all worked out."
Mitchell led the Utes offensively, matching her season-high of 24 points. She also had eight rebounds and seven assists. Morgan Warburton had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Utah.
The Wildcats had Utah's full attention after they beat BYU by 11 points a couple of weeks ago. They had the chance to defeat the two Mountain West Conference schools in the same year for just the second time in school history. They figured they had at least a small chance of doing it while riding into Friday's game on a five-game winning streak.
The Utes, however, were just as fired up to play the in-state game as the Wildcats were. Being considered the best team in the state is important to Utah, which defeated Utah State by 32 points earlier this season.
"We've got one more team (BYU) in the state to play," Warburton said. "Weber's a good team. They do well in their conference. We have to make it known that we're the best team in the state, and we did tonight."
Sara Tuomi led Weber State in scoring with 16 points but shot just 6-for-20 from the field. Ahkiah Hunter had 11 points for the Wildcats.
The Utes, who have won nine of their last 10 games, were efficient offensively throughout Friday's contest. Utah shot better than its season average from the field at 54 percent while scoring 24 points in the paint.
Coach Elaine Elliott could find little wrong with the Utes' victory. She said she wanted her team to start fast against the Wildcats to prevent them from gaining any hope of pulling off the upset."We started out extremely well," she said. "The kids defended well and set the tempo for us. They all contributed in ways that really made a difference for us."