"It's huge," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "Obviously it helps our younger kids, and it gives us a chance to look at some combinations that we haven't been able to look at during the season. This time of the year is certainly fun. We just want to keep playing for as long as possible."
The Utes have certainly been able to do that. They have received dominant performances from Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski. Freshman Danielle Rodriguez has grown into her role at point guard.
Most importantly, Utah is playing itself into more experience. The Utes have put themselves over the 20-win plateau with this run through the WNIT.
They are playing better defense. The offense looks more fluid, and the confidence heading into the Pac-12 next season has to be higher than ever.
"We aren't quite looking ahead to next season yet," Plouffe said. "We have really gotten ourselves into a groove the last few weeks. I think we're all trusting in each other. The guards are getting me and Taryn the ball in places where we can get great shots. We're just playing really well right now."
Utah at Saint Mary's
O McKeon Pavilion (Moraga, Calif.)
Tipoff • Saturday, 3 p.m. MT
TV • None
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah 21-13; Saint Mary's 23-10
Series history • Utah leads 5-0
Last meeting • Utah 66, Saint Mary's 53 (2010)
About the Utes • Utah has won 10 of its last 13 games. … The Utes are 7-9 overall in the WNIT. … Utah's won three games in the tournament. … This is the seventh overall appearance in the tournament for Utah
About the Gaels • Saint Mary's defeated BYU in the third round. … The Gaels are 1-3 against the Pac-12 this season. … St. Mary's went 11-5 this season in the WCC. … St. Mary's defeated BYU by ending the game on a 9-0 run