Utah women advance to WNIT championship

Utah women advance to WNIT championship

MANHATTAN, Kan. (ABC 4 Sports) - Michelle Plouffe scored 24 points as the Utes womens basketball team beat Kansas State in overtime, 54-46, to advance to the WNIT championship game against Drexel.
MANHATTAN, Kan. (ABC 4 Sports) - Behind double-doubles from Taryn Wicijowski and Michelle Plouffe, the Utah women’s basketball team defeated Kansas State, 54-46, in overtime to reach the WNIT title game.

Utah will play at Drexel on Saturday, April 6, at 3:00 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

Plouffe scored 24 points with 13 rebounds while Wicijowski scored 18 points and had a career-high 17 rebounds. It was Plouffe’s 12th double-double of the year and Wicijowski’s sixth.

A late surge by Kansas State and a cold shooting spell by Utah allowed the Wildcats to turn an eight-point Utah lead with seven minutes remaining in the second half, 39-31, into a tie game through the remainder of the half, sending the game into overtime at 39-39.

Utah led by two points in overtime, 43-41 with two minutes left, before Rachel Messer hit a three-pointer from the baseline to give the Utes a five-point lead in the extra stanza, 46-41, with 1:40 left. Utah held on down the stretch by going 8-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final 40 seconds of the game.

Utah shot 40 percent from the floor and held Kansas State to 27 percent shooting. The Utes also had 43-28 advantage on the glass. KSU came into the game averaging almost nine three’s per game and were held to just three three-pointers (3-of-27). The Wildcats stayed in the game by converting 19 Utah turnovers into 15 points.

“This is as good defensively as someone has played on us in a half all year,” Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. “We made just enough plays down the stretch to get the win. I thought we had a really great game plan tonight. I’m really proud of our team.

“We kept running the same stuff, we just made a couple more shots,” Levrets said about overtime. “Rachel made a huge three, and that was the turning point. Great play by Iwa [Rodrigues] to get down the lane, and made a perfect pass to Rachel for the three. I think at this time of year, with both teams guarding each other really well, it was about who was going to make a shot. We just happened to make a shot at the right time, and then we defended and rebounded like we can to hold a team like KSU to 3-of-27 from three – that’s a really good job defensively by our players.”

The Wildcats came into the game having never lost a WNIT home game, falling to 13-1 in their arena.

Utah led by as many as 14 points in the first half and led by nine points at halftime, 26-17. Utah shot 47 percent in the first half, and Wicijowski had a double-double by the first half with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Kansas State star Brittany Chambers, who had not scored less than 21 points in any of the Wildcats WNIT games, was held to 16 points.

“She is as good an offensive player as we’ve seen,” Levrets said about Chambers. “You have to get all the way into her space, and make sure you level her dribble, not retreat. I thought Iwa did a great job, because if she gets space, it’s going in, the goal was to give her as little a space to play in as possible. Iwa did an unbelievable job defending her, and our team defense behind it was pretty good too.”


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