A number of LDS athletes played prominent roles in the success of their teams during the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament held here March 3-8.
When the dust settled, the men's team of the University of Utah had won the WAC crown by beating Texas Christian University, 89-68. Meanwhile, the Utah women's team placed second in their title bid, losing to the Aztecs of San Diego State University, 56-50. The WAC Championship was upgraded this year to include the men's and women's tournament.Three LDS athletes for the Utah Utes - returned missionary Ben Caton of Alamosa, Colo., Drew Hansen of Tooele, Utah, and Jeff Johnson of Murray, Utah - were recognized for their defensive contributions that included clamping down on two of TCU's big men who led the Horned Frogs to the championship by scoring a combined 75 points the night before.
The Utah women were led by LDS junior guard Julie Krommenhoek of American Fork, Utah, who was named the WAC Mountain Division player of the year and was a unanimous choice for the all-conference team. She led all scorers with 21 points in the title game, including a three-pointer with 1:03 remaining to cut SDSU lead to five points.
KrommenhoekT is so well conditioned, plays so smart and is such a good shooter," said Aztec coach Beth Burns during a press conference following the game.
Other LDS teammates include Ali Bills of Sandy, Utah; Lisa R. Thueson of Imbler, Ore.; Janna Whitman of Magna, Utah; Hilary K. Noel of Layton, Utah; and Rosie Shelley of American Fork, Utah.
Two other LDS athletes in the WAC tournament, Brian Christiansen of Castle Dale, Utah, and Scott Benson of Taylorsville, Utah, played for the Rams of Colorado State University. Christiansen drained 21 points, including four treys, against Southern Methodist University, while Benson hit two three-pointers. CSU lost, 69-64.
The Utah men's team, ranked second nationally, entered the NCAA tournament as the second seed in the West Regionals, while the Utah women's team entered as a fifth-seeded team in the West Regionals.