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U. women seek momentum as preseason winds down

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After kicking off the new year with a 62-42 victory over Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne on Jan. 1, the Utah women's basketball team returns to action tonight (7 p.m., KALL 700AM) in the Huntsman Center against Montana.

It's the second contest in a five-game homestand for the Utes (9-4), who host Northern Colorado on Saturday before opening Mountain West Conference play next week against Colorado State and Wyoming.

The victory over IPFW snapped a two-game losing skid for Utah. Kim Smith, the two-time MWC Player of the Year, set the pace with a season-high 28 points. She also grabbed nine rebounds.

"That is what we are looking for, to get some momentum going into conference," said Smith, who needs just six points to surpass Mo Eckroth (1,248) for 10th-place on Utah's all-time scoring list. "This is a good game to build our confidence after two tough losses and that's what we need."

Montana (6-4), a perennial Big Sky Conference power, participated in the NCAA tourney last season. The Griz are led by senior Hollie Tyler. The center averages 15.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

GAME NOTES: Montana leads the series 12-8. The Griz defeated the Utes 61-58 last January in Missoula . . . Utah won the last meeting in Salt Lake City 77-38 in 2003 . . . The Utes are 97-17 against teams from the Big Sky.