I was really, really pleased with our effort, especially in the second half," Levrets said. "We played together, we shared the basketball, we defended, we communicated — we did all the things we need to do to be a good team.
SALT LAKE CITY — At the Division I level, nearly every player is capable of posting big figures and displaying moments of brilliancy on the basketball court.
However, not all players are capable of doing so each and every time they step onto the floor.
Michelle Plouffe is, though, and she seems to put on a show each time she dons the Utah jersey. Her consistency has put her at the forefront of the Utes' offense and she currently leads the scoring effort with 14 points per game.
The invaluable forward finished with 17 points on Saturday as the Utes defeated Texas Southern 75-33. She earned her fourth double-double of the season, pulling down 11 rebounds in the win.
She was not the only Ute to post big figures, and the landslide victory came as a result of a well-distributed scoring effort and stalwart defense in the second-half.
In the first half, Texas Southern was first to get on the scoreboard but the Utes quickly answered with a 13-0 run over the next three minutes. They held the Tigers to just nine points in the first 15 minutes of the game.
Both teams were hindered with silly turnovers and a fast transition offense resulted.
Despite being different from their usual set offense, Utah transitioned well and capitalized on many of its fast-break scoring opportunities. Taryn Wicijowski led the first half with 13 points, going 5-of-6 from the floor and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line. Utah went into halftime with a 35-19 lead.
In spite of the big lead, Utah head coach Anthony Levrets was not fully satisfied with the Utes' effort.
"Whether it was the BYU hangover, the finals hangover, or a combination of both, it didn't matter what the score said, I just didn't like how it felt out there in the first half," Levrets said. "And I challenged them at halftime to play different in the second half and they did a great job of defending."
Utah opened up the second half with a 16-0 run over the first five minutes. Texas Southern finished with just four second-half field goals and 14 points.
The Utes shot 63 percent in the half and utilized their entire bench, rotating each player into the game.
"I was really, really pleased with our effort, especially in the second half," Levrets said. "We played together, we shared the basketball, we defended, we communicated — we did all the things we need to do to be a good team."
Wicijowski agreed. "In the second half we decided that it was shut-down time," she said. "Obviously we did that, the score reflected that."
Wicisjowski finished with 15 points and Iwalani Rodgrigues had 13. Diana Rolniak tallied nine rebounds while Janita Badon had eight assists and five steals.
The Utes are back in action on Wednesday at the Huntsman Center, where they'll take on New Mexico State.
"We get a 31/2-week stretch of being a pro basketball team (Christmas break)," Levrets said. "We know as a staff our deficiencies and strengths, and in these couple weeks, we have to make sure we get better in those areas that we're deficient in and keep improving in those areas that make us a good team."
Utah will play its first conference game on Dec. 31 against Colorado and will look to improve upon its ability to play a full and consistent game.
"We just need to keep working on coming out and playing a full 40 minutes of good offense and good defense," Plouffe said.
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