OREM — Utah's 70-68 double-overtime victory Friday over host Utah Valley State was a game that, until the final minutes of regulation, both women's basketball teams frankly deserved to lose.
But then something funny happened — with neither team wanting to succumb to the prospect of defeat, the two squads considerably upped their intensity. The result was an enthralling dozen or so minutes of play that featured several lead changes and three would-be buzzer-beaters.
In the end, though, it was Utah sophomore guard Morgan Warburton who proved the difference. Scoring seven of her game-high 25 points in the second overtime, Warburton seemingly willed the Utes to victory.
"I didn't want it to go (to) another overtime," Warburton said. "I was mad at the end of the first overtime, so I definitely didn't want it to keep going."
With the two teams deadlocked at 56 points apiece at the end of the first overtime, Warburton came out in the second overtime and immediately shredded the UVSC defense for two layups.
The Utes stretched their lead to as much as six at 65-59, but the Wolverines would not go quietly. Freshman point guard Asumi Nakayama hit two 3-pointers in the final 70 seconds for UVSC, and fellow frosh Julie McMurray sank a 3-pointer from the right wing with 15 seconds left to cut the Utah lead to 69-68.
After Ute senior Heidi Carlsen got fouled and made one of two charity shots, the Wolverines regained possession with 10 seconds remaining. McMurray had a clean look on the final shot, a 3-pointer from the top of the key that softly bounced on the front of the rim before careening off the back of the rim and away from the cylinder.
The Utes, who led 32-22 at halftime, won in spite of a putrid second-half shooting performance that included 15.4 percent (4-for-26) shooting from the field and two scoreless stretches of more than five minutes.
"It was horrific," Utah coach Elaine Elliott said. "It was like a junior-high team on offense, literally. It was just ugly. It's us, just an indication of our problems (offensively)."
UVSC guard Sandy Marvin had clean looks at potentially game-winning shots at the end of regulation (an off-balance, straightaway 3-pointer) and the first overtime (a turn-around, leaning shot in the middle of the key).
The Wolverines got only 20 minutes out of their best player, center Robyn Fairbanks, because of foul trouble. Fairbanks played only six minutes in the first half after getting her second foul, and finally fouled out with 29 seconds left in regulation. The call that disqualified Fairbanks came on a play when she stood with her feet firmly planted and hands extended straight in the air as Kalee Whipple attempted a shot underneath the basket.
Whipple got a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Marvin led UVSC with 18 points.