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Las Vegas • Utah scored 12 points in the second half of regulation Saturday against Texas Christian.
Ute forward Michelle Plouffe scored eight points in the last two minutes of overtime.
So even if her closing effort was not quite as dramatic as her last-second shot Friday against BYU, Plouffe's work was every bit as important.
Good thing that Utah interim coach Anthony Levrets and Plouffe's teammates told her to keep shooting during a 52-47 victory for the Mountain West Conference women's tournament title at the Thomas & Mack Center.
"I just started making 'em when it mattered," Plouffe said. "I just need to keep my confidence when shots aren't going in."
After drilling the game-winning shot against BYU in the semifinals, Plouffe opened the championship game by hitting a jumper. But the game became a struggle for her and the entire Ute offense. Plouffe stood 6 for 19 from the field as of two minutes remaining in overtime, but then scored inside for a 46-45 lead.
The MWC Freshman of the Year made two free throws on the next possession, then answered a TCU basket with the biggest play of the game.
After grabbing a loose ball, Plouffe made a jumper from just inside the free-throw line with 24.4 seconds remaining. Plouffe completed her all-tournament showing by grabbing a rebound and making two more free throws, giving her 24 points and 11 boards. The Utes needed everything she could provide. Plouffe's 3-pointer that gave the Utes a 42-40 edge late in regulation was only their fourth basket of the second half; they finished those 20 minutes with 4-of-22 shooting against TCU's tough defense.
But the Utes came through in overtime, with Iwalani Rodrigues hitting a shot and Plouffe adding her eight-point flurry.
Plouffe once responded to a six-point game at Colorado State with a 30-point effort against UNLV, so Levrets was not surprised at her perseverance Saturday.
"She's really, really talented, has a great demeanor about her and does not get down," Levrets said. "She just plays through anything."
So the Utes (18-16) get to keep playing, coming home to compete in the NCAA Tournament next weekend.