Utah Women’s Basketball Claim Victory Over Idaho in Impressive Season Opener


Julia Chuang

The University of Utah women’s basketball team takes on Idaho at the Jon. M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Nov. 7 2022. (Photo by Julia Chuang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abbey Thomas, Assistant Sports Editor


In a fantastic start to the season, the University of Utah women’s basketball team fought valiantly against the Idaho Vandals to secure a win at home in the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The win comes after the Utes defeated both Northwest Nazarene and Westminster University in their preseason exhibition matches, offering fans a hopeful start to the season. 

The game began with sophomore Gianna Kneepkens and junior Isabel Palmer scoring one three-pointer apiece, quickly getting the Utes up on the board. The Vandals, on the other hand, decided to match the Utes’ energy and quickly added 9 points to their name in response. This drove Utah head coach Lynne Roberts to make a lineup change, and brought in USC transfer Alissa Pili to make her official Utah debut. Unknown to Idaho at the time, such a decision would prove deadly throughout the rest of the game. 

Once on the court, Pili swiftly claimed a three-pointer and offered an assist on another basket, bringing the Utes back up to 13-9. Idaho guard Tiana Johnson continued to power through for the Vandals, and brought the score up to 21-21 with just under three minutes left of the first ten. The two teams traded the ball back and forth for the remainder, and left the first quarter at 29-29. 

An interview with Roberts following the game showed some of the coach’s concerns regarding the first quarter, particularly in Idaho’s domination of the three-point line.

During the match, Roberts stated they “weren’t surprised they were shooting them. It was the game plan to defend the three-point line, and it took us 10 minutes to get going there… we’ll learn from it and clean things up, but we got a convincing win”. 

After enduring a relentless first quarter, the Utes came back at the start of the second quarter to keep the Vandals off the scoreboard for a full five minutes, and add nine more points to make it 38-29. Teya Sidberry added another three for the reds, and after allowing a few throws to the Vandals the Utes finished off the first half at 47-38. 

At their return after the half, the Utes continued to increase their end of the score with Jenna Johnson contributing a bucket to make it 54-40. Utah continued to hold onto their double digit lead with the help of Palmer, who secured another layup to bring the Utes to 60-45 at the five minute mark. After a rocky first half, the Utes closed the third quarter with a strong 68-53 lead. 

The start of the fourth and final quarter saw the Utes keep their momentum and widen the score gap even further, when freshman Lani White put away a couple of free throws to bring it to 73-53. Idaho could evidently feel the match slipping away and made an effort to break down the Utah defense, bringing the score to 73-59. At the last minute, Pili came through to deliver 11 straight points, finally putting the Vandals out of their misery. The Utes ultimately took the match with a final score of 88-63.

After this well-deserved victory to kick off the season, the Utes will look to preserve their winning streak as they welcome the Utah Valley Wolverines in the Huntsman this Friday. 


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