March 13, 2008 - 9:00 pm
The 12th-ranked Utah Utes would like to invoke the Las Vegas tourism slogan “What happens here stays here.”
They were shocked 60-52 by Colorado State on Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament, a 27-3 team losing to a 3-27 team.
“Rather it be now than the first round of the NCAAs when you know you’re done for good,” Utes forward Morgan Warburton said. “Maybe this is just a little bit of a wake-up call for us.”
Utah had gone 16-0 in league play and had won 22 in a row.
Emily Neal scored 17 points, and the ninth-seeded Rams (4-28) outmuscled and outhustled the heavily favored Utes (28-4), who shot 29 percent and were bruised and battered on the boards.
Colorado State was winless in conference play (0-16) and entered the tourney on a 20-game losing streak before beating UNLV in the play-in game Tuesday night, a prelude to one of the biggest upsets in college basketball this season.
All night, it was hard to tell which team had won 27 games and which had lost 27.
“Because that’s how they practice,” Rams coach Jen Warden said of her players’ inspired performance.
Neal’s two free throws with 4:40 remaining gave Colorado State its biggest lead at 50-43, and Sara Hunter (12 points) sank two foul shots with 1:59 left to extend the advantage to 53-45.
It was the Rams’ first win over a ranked team in seven seasons.
“We didn’t have anything to lose really,” Hunter said.
Amaka Uzomah pulled down 15 rebounds for Colorado State, which will face New Mexico in the semifinals Friday.
Leilani Mitchell led Utah with 19 points, and Pahranagat Valley High School graduate Kalee Whipple and Warburton each scored 11.
• New Mexico 59, Brigham Young 41 — Amy Beggin and Angela Hartill scored 13 points apiece as the fourth-seeded Lobos (18-12) rolled past the Cougars (13-16).
New Mexico advanced despite a quiet day from all-time leading scorer Dionne Marsh, a senior who had nine points on 2-for-6 shooting.
Winners of the MWC tournament four of the past five years, the Lobos are 13-1 in the conference tourney since 2003.
Mallary Carling led BYU with 14 points.
• Texas Christian 60, Air Force 47 — Adrianne Ross had 16 points and five steals to help the second-seeded Horned Frogs (21-10) defeat the Falcons (10-19).
Lorie Butler-Rayford added 13 points and Helen Roden 11.
TCU forced 28 turnovers, including 19 in the first half as it built a 36-22 lead.
The Horned Frogs led by as many as 19 points in the second half after two Butler-Rayford free throws with 4:44 remaining.
Air Force’s Jamie Davis had a team-high 14 points.
• San Diego State 66, Wyoming 54 — Jene Morris had 21 points as the Aztecs (17-12) held on to upset the third-seeded Cowgirls (24-6).
Megan McGuffey led Wyoming with 22 points and 10 rebounds.