ASU Comes Up Short Against Utah

March 20, 2006

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Fifteen-point deficits are nothing to Utah.

The fifth-seeded Utes erased another one, this time in the first half, and went on to rout No. 4 seed Arizona State 86-65 on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Kim Smith, four-time Mountain West Conference player of the year, had 25 points and nine rebounds and Utah (26-6) won its sixth in a row to advance to the round of 16 for only the second time in the program's history.

The Utes, who rallied from 15 down in the second half to beat Middle Tennessee in the first round, travel to Albuquerque for a Saturday night matchup against the winner of the Tuesday night game against No. 1 seed Ohio State and Boston College.

Amy Denson scored 14, Emily Westerberg 12 and Kristen Kovesdy 11 for the Sun Devils (25-7), who failed to repeat last season's regional semifinal appearance.

Shona Thorburn added 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Julie Larsen scored 19 for the Utes, winners of the Mountain West Conference tournament.

Utah outscored Arizona State 34-13 over the last 10 minutes on a night that looked grim for the Utes after the Sun Devils opened a 34-19 lead.

But coach Elaine Elliott's team scored the last 15 points of the first half to tie it at 34.

Smith started the outburst with a 3-pointer. She and Larsen scored five apiece in the run. Thorburn sank a jumper to cut it to 34-33 with 34 seconds left. She had a chance to give the Utes the lead after being fouled with two seconds to go in the half. She made the first free throw to tie it but missed the second.

Utah's scoring streak reached 19-0 when Perry and Smith made the first two baskets of the second half to go up 38-34. The Utes went ahead 47-40 on Thorburn's uncontested driving layup with 10:34 to play.

Arizona State tied it at 52 when Kovesdy made two free throws with 8:50 to go.

But Utah scored the next six, four by Larsen, to trigger an 18-5 run. Larsen's' 3-pointer made it 70-57 with 4:18 left.

The Sun Devils, playing just a two-hour drive from their Tempe campus, scored the first seven points of the game and were up 13-2 after Kirsten Thompson's inside basket. The Utes cut it to 17-13 on Smith's inside basket with 11:44 left in the half.

But Danielle Orsillo's 3-pointer kicked off a 17-6 Arizona State run and the Sun Devils led 34-17 on Kovesdy's 3-pointer 6:44 before the break. The Sun Devils didn't score again in the half.

Utah freshman Morgan Warburton played the game wearing a special mouth guard and some of her front teeth wired together after taking a smack to the face in the Utes' first-round victory over Middle Tennessee.

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