"That's the good thing about stepping out of your league to play other teams," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "You get a fresh start, so to speak. Taryn and Michelle were very good. They carried us tonight."
How good? The two frontcourt stalwarts combined to score 44 of the Utes 61 points. Plouffe finished with 21, and added 15 rebounds to go along with four assists. Wicijowski dropped in a game-high 23. She had seven rebounds and three blocked shots. No other Utah player reached double-figures.
As a result, Utah advances to the third round. The Utes also reach the benchmark 20-win plateau, with a chance to add to the total on Thursday night when they travel to play Pacific.
"We wanted to get the ball inside, and we felt that if we did, we could generate pretty good offense," Plouffe said. "The guards did a great job in getting us the ball in spots where we could score."
It was a game Utah controlled throughout. Sure, there was a nine minute first-half field goal drought. Yes, San Diego pulled within one in the initial 20 minutes. But Utah put the game away effectively in the first five minutes of the second-half with a 7-2 run right away. Faced with an uphill climb, San Diego turned to its star, Amy Kame for points.
She responded with 19, but shot 6-24 in the process.
"Iwalani Rodrigues did a great job on her," Levrets said. "Her offensive production was down from where it normally is, but she made Kame work for everything she got. That was very important."
on twitter: @tjonessltrib
Storylines Moving on to Round 3
R Utah advances to the third round of the Women's NIT.
• Michelle Plouffe has 21 points and 15 rebounds.