Utes women lose in WNIT championship game

PHILADELPHIA (ABC 4 Sports) - The University of Utah women's basketball team loses to Drexel in the WNIT championship game, 46-43.
PHILADELPHIA (ABC 4 Sports) - The Utah women’s basketball team fell to Drexel in the WNIT championship game, 46-43, on Saturday afternoon.

Iwalani Rodrigues led Utah with 12 points while Taryn Wicijowski and Michelle Plouffe each scored nine. Plouffe had a game-high 14 rebounds.

Utah ends its season with a 23-14 record.

“I am unbelievably proud of our kids, of how hard we competed and worked,” Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. “We’ve traveled 6,800 miles and spent almost 15 hours on a bus during this tournament. What we did was hard. You don’t do what we did in the last three weeks with kids who aren’t tough and have a tremendous amount of desire to compete. Having five of your six games on the road is hard. I can assure you.”

Utah led by three points at halftime, 24-21, and took a seven-point lead through the first four minutes of the second half, 31-24. The Utes went cold from the floor, and a 14-2 run for Drexel gave it its first lead of the game, 38-33 with eight minutes left.

Drexel led by five points with four minutes remaining, before back-to-back three’s by the Utes from Cheyenne Wilson and Rodrigues gave the team a one-point lead, 43-42 with three minutes left in the game.

Both teams played strong defense in the final minutes, with both teams failing to make buckets. With 40 seconds left, the Dragons missed back-to-back layups and Plouffe pulled down the rebound. After a timeout was called by Drexel, the Utes turned the ball over on the inbounds, and after another Drexel timeout Hollie Mershon converted a layup to give the Dragons a one-point lead with 21 seconds left.

After a timeout by the Utes, Utah again turned the ball over on a backcourt violation, and was forced into fouling. Drexel made both free throws to take a three-point advantage, and a desperation shot by the Utes was wide of its mark in the final seconds.

“Over the course of a game there are all kinds of possessions you can look at,” Levrets said. “We are not in that situation if we hadn’t made mistakes early in the game. It’s not the last two plays, although obviously at the time they are a little more magnified. It just didn’t work out for us today.”

Utah led by as many as eight points in the first half, taking a 10-2 lead through the first six minutes of the game.

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