FORT WORTH, Texas Fortunately for the University of Utah women's basketball team, Kalee Whipple didn't get off to a slow start.
Whipple scored a career-high 30 points Saturday as the Utes kept the TCU Horned Frogs at bay, 60-50, in a Mountain West Conference clash.
The sophomore forward recorded the first 30-point effort of the year for Utah as the team raised its winning streak out to 11 straight games.
Whipple single-handedly kept pace with the Horned Frogs (10-9, 3-2 MWC), scoring 14 of the team's first 16 points, including the first 11. She helped the Utes (16-3, 5-0) erase a four-point, 10-6 deficit as it turned it around to capture the lead midway through the first half.
With a Morgan Warburton jumper in the middle of Whipple's effort, Utah was able to capture the 16-10 lead with 9:46 left in the half.
A 7-3 run gave Utah the 20-13 edge with 7:40 left, but the Utes' biggest cushion came when Warburton hit a trey with 3:23 remaining in the half. It gave Utah an eight-point, 23-15 lead.
It was the Whipple and Morgan Warburton show in the first half as they combined to score all of the team's points in the opening 20 minutes. Whipple scored 18 in the first stanza and Warburton seven as the Utes took a 25-19 lead into the half.
Utah shot just 34.8 percent (8-for-23) in the first half. But, it finished shooting 42.2 percent (19-for-45) for the game. Whipple led the way as her career night came on 9-for-11 shooting, including a 4-for-5 effort from beyond the arc. Warburton had her usual double-figure scoring afternoon, pouring in 16 points.
While Leilani Mitchell only had eight points, she dished out eight assists (to only one turnover) and had seven boards.
Utah went up nine points with 16:12 remaining, and 11 points with 10:03 left. But, TCU wouldn't go away. Both times it chiseled its way back, trimming the respective leads to two. Lorie Butler-Rayford's three with 14:27 left in the game cut Utah's nine-point cushion to 36-34. The Utes recaptured a 45-34 lead but a 9-0 run, capped off by an Adrianne Ross steal and lay-up, cut TCU's deficit back to one possession, 45-43, with 4:22 remaining.
But, Whipple hit a jumper and a three on back-to-back possessions, upping Utah's lead to seven, 50-43, with 3:18 remaining. Utah held on the rest of the way, finishing strong for the 10-point win.
TCU finished the game shooting a meager 27.9 percent (17-for-61) and Utah held the commanding 44-35 lead under the glass. It was Whipple's 10 boards that led all players.
Utah's road trip wraps up when it plays at Wyoming on Wednesday.
BYU 41, NEW MEXICO 38: At Albuquerque, N.M., coming off of two tough conference losses, the BYU women's basketball team (9-8, 3-2) entered the famed Pit on Saturday afternoon and beat New Mexico 41-38 on its home floor for the second year in a row.
Senior guard Mallary Gillespie-Carling recorded the 59th double-figure scoring performance of her career and 12th this season with 14 points for BYU (9-8, 3-2 Mountain West).
Junior forward Shawnee Slade contributed 12 points and eight boards, and senior center Lauren Riley-Varley added 12 rebounds for the Cougars. Senior forward Ashley Cheesman also played an important starting defensive role and held UNM's Dionne Marsh, the Lobos' leading scorer, to only 11 total points and none in the second half as New Mexico fell to 10-9 and 2-4.
"We're very excited; it's a good win for the team," Cheesman said. "All the coaches told me to do was to stop Marsh. We played her tendencies well, and she couldn't get anything off."
Gillespie-Carling and Shawnee Slade each had eight points and two three-point buckets going into the locker room at the half. The Cougars shot 40 percent from the field and pulled down 21 boards in the first period as well. As a team, they were 5-for-11 from downtown and did not take a free throw in the first 20 minutes as they took a three-point lead at the half, 25-22.
The second half was a battle. The game remained with three points with BYU leading most of the half, but the Cougars were able to break open a five-point lead with just under two minutes to play for the largest lead of the half. The Lobos were able to pull back to within three points and had an opportunity to either pull within one or tie the game, but missed a lay-up and BYU brought down the rebound.
UNM missed three three-point shots that would have tied the game, and BYU handed the Lobos their fourth conference loss of the season.
The Cougars recorded 49 rebounds and 10 steals in the game, and the 38 points is the least BYU has allowed in any game all season.
The BYU team will head home to play its next two games at home against Air Force and Wyoming on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m., respectively, in the Marriott Center.
LOUISIANA TECH 71, UTAH STATE 56: At Logan, senior guard Taylor Richards set a new USU career 3-pointers record Saturday night, but Utah State was topped by Louisiana Tech in Western Athletic Conference women's basketball action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
With her first three of the night, which was USU's first points of the game, Richards broke the previous record of 83 held by former teammate Brittany Hagen (2003-07) when she drained a trey from the left wing just 2:31 into Saturday's contest. The senior guard ended the night with two 3-pointers, upping her career total to 84.
Richards now has two USU career records as she is the Aggies' career assists leader, adding to her total with a game-high tying five on Saturday to give her 347 and counting for her career.
The loss was USU's fifth in a row as the Aggies drop to 6-13 overall and 2-5 in WAC action. The Lady Techsters improves to 9-10 overall and 3-3 in the WAC.
Richards netted a game-high 18 points to go with her game-high five assists, while fellow backcourt mate junior Danyelle Snelgro added 11 points.
USU shot 17-of-60 (28.3 percent) from the field, but shot a better percentage from three-point range at 38.5 percent (5-of-13). The Aggies were also 17-of-24 (70.8 percent) at the free throw line.
LTU was 23-of-52 (44.2 percent) field goal shooting, hitting 5-of-14 (35.7 percent) behind the three-point arc and the Lady Techsters were 20-of-21 (95.2 percent) at the free pitch stripe.
La Tech led from start to finish, jumping out to a 16-5 lead at 14:22 before taking a 37-27 halftime advantage. The Lady Techsters improved to 8-0 when leading at the half while the Aggies are now 0-12 when trailing at intermission.
Utah State trailed by double-digits for the majority of the second half as La Tech opened the stanze with a 15-7 spurt to take a 52-34 lead at 13:21 after a pair of Wysinger free throws and the Lady Techsters cruised to the win.
The Aggies open a four-game road swing on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Nevada.
NORTHERN ARIZ0NA 75, WEBER STATE 63: At Flagstaff, Ariz., Northern Arizona had four players finish in double figure scoring to knock off the Weber State women's basketball team Saturday night.
The Lumberjacks now move ahead of the Wildcats and
into sixth place in the Big Sky standings. The loss drops Weber State to 8-11 overall and 2-5 in Big Sky Conference action, currently in seventh in the league standings.
Northern Arizona jumped out to a quick seven-point lead with 12:31 to play in the first half and never looked back. The Wildcats tied the game at 15-15 with 9:28 to play in the half but the 'Jacks responded with a 7-0 run and the Wildcats never got closer than five points the rest of the way. NAU led by nine points at halftime and held on for the 12 point win.
Turnovers once again hurt the Wildcats as they committed 22 on the night compared to just ten for the Lumberjacks. NAU turned those WSU turnovers into 30 points and the Wildcats dropped to 0-10 this season
when committing more turnovers than their opponents. NAU shot 45 percent from the field and held Weber State to 35 percent shooting. The 'Cats did out rebound the 'Jacks 41-31 but NAU did have ten steals, the second most by a WSU opponent this season.