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Kalee Whipple

ALBUQUERQUE — Two W's added up to yet another W for the University of Utah women's basketball team.

Kalee Whipple and Morgan Warburton each scored eight consecutive points in a critical, game-turning run for 18th-ranked Utah to help the Utes recover from a 12-point, second-half deficit and defeat New Mexico 57-53 in a Mountain West Conference battle Saturday at University Arena.

The win gives Utah 18 straight wins, matching the school record, with Whipple scoring 21 points and Warburton adding 17. Dionne Marsh led New Mexico (14-12, 6-7) with 21 points, and Brandi Kimble had 11.

Warburton and Whipple keyed an 18-4 run that erased a 44-32 deficit with 4:49 remaining, allowing Utah (23-3, 12-0 Mountain West Conference) to overcome long scoring droughts at the start of each half.

Utah used a press in its stretch run, although Utah coach Elaine Elliott doesn't necessarily believe that was the difference.

"I think we got one turnover," she said. "After that, it's hard to say. It does tend to energize you a lot. It gets you into that stop mind-set. That you have to get a stop. I think it did more for us than anything against them."

The big key was the Lobos' inability to stop Whipple and Warburton.

"We couldn't contain Whipple and we couldn't contain Warburton down the stretch," UNM coach Don Flanagan said. "I thought about a zone, but those guys are pretty accurate shooters and the zone might have made us look bad."

Whipple started the run, hitting a 3-pointer, both ends of a one-and-one and another 3. Then Warburton took over with back-to-back 3-pointers and a short jumper, which tied it at 48-all.

"Utah is to be commended," Flanagan said. "They made big shot after big shot in a tough environment."

Leilani Mitchell gave Utah its first lead moments later with a baseline drive, and the Utes never trailed again.

Utah made its final seven shots — five of them 3-pointers — and its last six shots from the foul line.

"When three or four minutes are left in the game, you have to find any way you can to get back into it," Warburton said. "One thing with this team, we don't give up. Anything can happen in a close game."

New Mexico held the Utes scoreless for the first 8:10 of the game and for the first 5:07 of the second half.

"The fans are such a big thing in this building," she said. "They get it going and it can get frustrating. It's hard when you can't make a shot and they can't miss."

Utah went through another drought to start the second half, this time going 5:07 without a point before Halie Sawyer went inside for a basket.