SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah women's basketball team earned a landslide victory over New Mexico State, 74-37, in the Huntsman Center Wednesday night.
The dominant victory can be attributed in large part to the team's sound defensive effort — something that is quickly becoming an underlying theme for the team's success.
That, and Michelle Plouffe's magic touch on the basketball.
Plouffe found her rhythm, as she so often does, and drained 17 points in the first half alone. She subbed out of the game ten minutes early as a result of the large lead, and still managed to finish with a game-high 24 points for Utah. She sunk three 3-pointers and went 9-of-12 from the field.
"She just has a complete game," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "Every single night, doesn't matter who we're playing against, she shows up and plays her tail off."
Not only did Plouffe have an explosive night offensively, she earned her fifth double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds in the win.
Two other players were in double figures, including 12 points for Taryn Wicijowski and 11 for Rachel Messer.
Utah came out hard and set the pace early in the first half. They held the Aggies to a mere 14.3-percent shooting and enjoyed an 18-3 run to finish the half with a 33-11 lead. The Utes have held their last two opponents to less than 20-percent shooting.
"We feel like offensively, we'll get to where we need to be by the end of the season. But if you can guard, any night you have a chance to win, and our kids believe that," Levrets said.
Utah's stifling defense will serve them well in regular conference play and they'll look to continually improve on both sides of the floor.
"Our motion in the first half was pretty good," Plouffe said. "In the second half it was a little sloppy, but overall I think we executed really good. We can always still improve."
In spite of an offensive surge from New Mexico, the Utes continued to pull away and outscored the Aggies 41-26 in the second half. Plouffe and Janita Badon were pulled with about ten minutes remaining and Levrets began to substitute liberally.
"It is nice to get everyone on the floor," Levrets said. "Everybody practices, and it's nice that everybody gets to contribute in a basketball game. It's nice to give everybody a chance."
Utah will take on Utah Valley on Wednesday in the Huntsman Center.