Utah Women’s Basketball Looks To Get Off to Good Start against Lipscomb and Xavier


Langley Hayman

University of Utah women’s basketball players shaking hands after the match vs. Westminster Griffin’s at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Oct. 29, 2021. (Photo by Langley Hayman | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


The University of Utah women’s basketball team tips off at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. They will play Lipscomb Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Xavier on Friday at noon. Both games will be accessible to watch on Utah Utes live stream, as well as in person.

The Utes are coming off an extremely disappointing season in which the team went 5-16. They impressed with a hot start and win over Westminster in an exhibition game last week.

In that game, Kennady McQueen led the way with 20 points. Head coach Lynne Roberts has raved about McQueen and her scoring ability since she arrived at the U last spring. That confidence is starting to pay off as this was McQueen’s best game of her young career thus far.

Newcomers were the story of Utah’s exhibition game as Gianna Kneepkens (13 points), Inês Vieira (12), and Isabel Palmer (10) all contributed double digits for Utah.

If the Utes, who often struggled to spread scoring last year, can have a more even balance in their offense this year, it could mean big things for a team looking to improve.

Coach Roberts, in interviews earlier this offseason, has said the Utes’ two biggest goals this year are to get better at perimeter defense and limit turnovers.

Turnovers were a big issue for the Utes last year. Utah averaged 17 turnovers a game last year, one of the worst rates in the Pac-12. Simply put those numbers must go down if the Utes hope to be successful in the upcoming season.

Another area the Utes struggled in last year was shooting the ball. The Utes ranked tenth in the conference, shooting 37 percent from the field in 2020. Those numbers will have to tick up if the Utes are to compete in a conference where top half opponents shot 40 percent or better over the year. It isn’t a huge leap to make, but the Utes must show some improvement in that area.

A big part of that will be the continued development of junior Brynna Maxwell. Maxwell had struggles last year shooting the ball, especially against contact, according to Roberts.

If Maxwell can improve the consistency at which she shoots the ball the Utes have a chance in every game they play. Maxwell has the potential to be a 20 point scorer on a nightly basis, her skill level is that high. The question now becomes, can she knock down those kind of numbers at a consistent pace?

The Utes’ season last year was disappointing. It was also the most challenging college sports season on record for a variety of reasons. The Utes will look to bounce back big starting Wednesday night as they attempt to make March Madness for the first time in the tenure of Roberts.

She believes this is the deepest team she has ever had. Only time will tell.


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