"Getting stops. That's what it was all about," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "It was close at halftime. I think this early in the season there is so little film to rely on, so it took us a half for the girls to understand how and where Southern Utah was getting their points from. Once we did, the girls were fine."
As usual, punching the ball down low to Taryn Wicijowski proved to be a key, as the junior center scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. On a night where Michelle Plouffe struggled with her shot, Iwalani Rodrigues provided a fine complement to Wicijowski, scoring 20 points herself.
Utah led as much as 51-28 in the second half, but saw that advantage reduced to single digits before pulling away down the stretch. The Utes (2-0) forced the T-Birds to shoot a paltry 32 percent from the field in the second half, with only Marissa Robbins scoring as much as 10 points.
The Ute made 25 free throws. Senior guard Rachel Messer chipped in with 10 points, as Utah scored 44 points after halftime. That was enough for the Utes to cruise to a comfortable victory, as a big matchup with Michigan awaits on Friday night.
"It's important that we get off to a good start to this season, so this was a big win for us," Wicijowski said. "I thought we played well in the second half, especially defensively. I thought that opened up a lot of easy offense for us, and we were lucky enough to be able to take advantage of it."
Storylines Utah 79, SUU 61
R Utah's Taryn Wicijowski scores 20 points and grabs 15 rebounds.
• Utah scores 16 consecutive points to open the second half.
• Utah cruises to its second win of the season.