Utah Women’s Basketball Rock Preseason Exhibition


Xiangyao Tang

University of Utah Utes women’s basketball team takes on the USC Trojans at the Jon. M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abbey Thomas, Assistant Sports Editor


Ahead of the regular season beginning on Nov. 7, the Utah women’s basketball team put on a show for their exhibition game against Idaho’s Northwest Nazarene University. The two teams went head to head on Thursday in a friendly preseason meeting, looking to warm up in anticipation of the start of the regular season.

Thursday’s scrimmage got off to an adrenaline-filled start with the Utes putting 5 points on the board by the thirty-second mark — sophomore Kennady McQueen claimed the first score with a 3-pointer, quickly followed by a layup from fellow sophomore Inês Vieira.

However, the Nighthawks were not far behind, and rushed back to tie up the score. In response, Utes guards Gianna Kneepkens and Isabel Palmer chose to echo their teammates and added a three and a layup, respectively, to secure a five-point lead. The first quarter would end with a valiant scoring effort from both sides, and after a handful of free-throws the two teams tied at 23-23.

At the start of the second quarter, the Utes began to charge ahead and solidify their lead, which would ultimately see them through the end of the game. An initial scoring run from both sides brought the total to 34-28, but Utes forward Alissa Pili fought back and seized 6 straight points to put Utah ahead of the Nighthawks 40-29.

This strike back seemed to encourage the Utes, and the team continued to pull ahead. Kneepkens followed to further extend the lead and delivered a layup to bring the Utes into halftime with a firm 16-point lead, 57-41.

Going into the third quarter, Northwest Nazarene was not ready to give up without a fight — the Nighthawks came back with a scoring run of 6, barely allowing the Utes to keep a double-digit lead at 59-49. However, Utah was not willing to put up with such a move, and took back those 6 points to bring it up to 65-49.

The reds continued to power ahead and after Pili and Palmer came back to lend a layup apiece, the Utes were sitting comfortably at 86-52 to finish the quarter.

Confidently heading into the final quarter, the Utes proceeded to pile up the points, and with a three-pointer from Kneepkens the score extended to 89-52. The Nighthawks appeared overwhelmed as Utah forward Kelsey Rees delivered a layup to bring it to 93-52.

Utah continued to power on, with freshman Teya Sidberry contributing a jump shot and putting the final nail in the coffin to send the Utes’ score soaring over the 100 mark. The quarter concluded with a massive 119-62 victory for the Utes, offering fans a promising result ahead of the start of the regular season.

Thursday’s win comes as the Utes’ seventh victory in exhibition games under current head coach Lynne Roberts, with zero losses. Now the Utes must look ahead to their final preseason exhibition game where they take on Salt Lake City rival Westminster College on Nov. 1 at the Huntsman.


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