LAS VEGAS You'd have thought after losing to a team with 24 fewer victories than your team, one that had lost 20 games in a row before beating your team that had won 22 in a row, that Utah coach Elaine Elliott would be angry or at least embarrassed.
However, Elliott acted more philosophical after Utah's shocking 60-52 loss Wednesday to a 3-27 Colorado State team.
She talked about what her team had accomplished all season and how the loss shouldn't affect her team going forward to next week's NCAA Tournament.
"We want to put this where it belongs for us because what these kids have done and the incredible consistency that they've shown in their play has been phenomenal," Elliott said.
"We have a blip on the radar screen which is just something that usually happens many more times than this and usually, you know, isn't something that doesn't crop up earlier. So that's the good news. We'll try to just rebound from that."
In Wednesday's loss, the Utes never matched the intensity of the Rams, who were coming off a win over UNLV in the play-in game the night before and were motivated to keep their postseason hopes alive. One of the big problems for the Utes was that they suffered their worst shooting night of the season, 29 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range.
"It's the first game all year that we've had that difficulty shooting the ball, and that's amazing," said Elliott. "It's the first time all year that all three of our scorers struggled on the same night, and that's more of a statement about how good we've been, not how bad we were tonight."
Utah's guard Morgan Warburton, who made just 4-of-16 shots from the field, said perhaps it was better for her team to get a loss out of the way now, rather than early in the NCAA Tournament.
"It's hard to take this, but at the same time things happen for a reason," Warburton said. "Maybe this is just a little bit of a wake-up call for us. We've had a great year, been really consistent with everything. Maybe we just need to get grounded and find what we do best and take it to the NCAA Tournament and go far there."
The Utes headed home Thursday, and Elliott vowed to have her team do nothing but rest for the next few days as it awaits an NCAA assignment on Monday.
As the conference regular-season champions, the Utes are expected to stay in the West, which would mean first- and second- round games at either Albuquerque or Palo Alto, where the two West subregionals lead into the regional at Spokane.
Other subregionals will be played at Baton Rogue, La.; Bridgeport, Conn.; College Park, Md.; Des Moines, Iowa; Norfolk, Va.; and West Lafayette, Ind.
The Utes aren't speculating on what their seed will be, but with their overall season record of 27-4 and RPI rating, they should end up with somewhere between a No. 4 and 6 seed.
"We have sort of created our own monster," Elliott said."We just want to try to put this where it best helps us and move to be refreshed and ready to go."