Women’s basketball faces rival for redemption

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It came down to the buzzer.

In the last five seconds of the 2011 Mountain West Conference semifinals, the University of Utah gained possession of the ball and scored, beating the BYU women’s basketball team, 50-49.

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Lexi Eaton goes for a layup in a game against Duke in the Marriott Center earlier this season.
Saturday the Cougars take on the Utes at the Marriott Center in a rivalry game with tensions that have increased since the fateful game back in March.

“For the players that were here, that game’s fresh in everyone’s mind, and it won’t ever leave us,” sophomore Kim Parker said. “Even though [Utah’s] not in our conference anymore, it’s always a big rivalry, and because of that we’re going to come out playing hard.”

After such a successful week in Hawaii — taking down two undefeated teams in a row — the Cougars are looking not only to their starting five but their deep bench as well. Though against Syracuse the starters contributed big points, many players off the bench played a lot of minutes and contributed a good amount of points.

Parker said she knows how amazing the bench players are because she plays with them every day in practice and expects big things from them.

“There’s going to be times when one of us starters have an off night, or when someone gets injured,” Parker said. “So [with the starters] playing great games right now and building up their confidence, we all know if someone goes out with an injury, someone else is going to step up.”

For 5-foot-11 freshman Xojian Harry, the game against the Utes is personal.

“I’m very excited [for Utah],” Harry said. “Both my parents graduated from the U, so I grew up a Utah fan, and then I ended up coming here. Obviously it’s a big game, and the girls are excited and we want to get this win. We’re definitely going to work hard this week to get it.”

BYU coach Jeff Judkins said he’s really pushed the Utah game on the team because of the loss against them last season that robbed the Cougars of their bid to the NCAA tournament.

“Utah’s a very good team,” Judkins said. “They control tempo by slowing it up, and they try and do that on us, so I’ve got some tricks, some things I’m thinking about trying to do against them.”

Although Judkins said he respects the opponent and realizes their skill, he thinks the Cougars are better than they were back in March. With the increased talents of Jennifer Hamson, Stephanie Vermunt, Haley Steed, Lexi Eaton and Parker, Judkins said the game should be a fun one.

“It’ll be a big game,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll be able to take care of business.”

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