Utah Women’s Basketball Remains Undefeated After Utah-Packed Week


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, Sports Editor


In a busy week leading up to the holidays, the University of Utah women’s basketball team met up with two of their Utah-based rivals to close out regular non-conference play. Currently sitting as the second-highest scoring team in the nation, the Utes are heading into the holidays as one of only eight teams nationally — and the only Pac-12 team — who remain undefeated.

Starting with a match against Weber State on Tuesday, the Utes claimed their 11th consecutive win of the season, bumping them up to 12th place in the national polls. Then, on Thursday, Utah achieved yet another victory to match their best seasonal start record of twelve consecutive wins (12-0). The new year will hopefully bring the Utes a new best, so long as the team can successfully make it past Washington State.

The match against the Wildcats saw a slow start from the red side, letting Weber take them to 11-9 to start off the first quarter. The opposing lead evidently spooked the Ute offense, but before long they went on a 14-point run, with Teya Sidberry contributing five points, helping block out Weber for the entirety. 

Starting the second quarter at 23-11, the Utes rang in a quick two points to extend their run, this time proving to have found their footing. Utah would continue to cushion their lead, ending the first half at 47-25 with a respectable 55% shooting average.

In the second half, the Utes saw that average falter slightly and reach a low at 34 percent. However, this shooting inaccuracy didn’t jeopardize Utah’s lead or scoring efforts, as the Utes achieved 15 out of the 18 free throws awarded to them in the half. Ultimately, the Utes kept Weber at bay, scoring nearly twice as many points as the Wildcats in the fourth quarter to bring in a victory on the road at 88-52.

After cleaning up shop at Weber, the Utes had a quick turnaround time before Thursday’s game against Southern Utah. The game saw a record night for the freshman Sidberry, who was a top scorer with 16 points and 8 rebounds – just behind Gianna Kneepkens who claimed a total 17 points in the match.

The first quarter started off with two impressive three pointers, one each for Kennady McQueen and Alissa Pili. The two teams traded back and forth before the two minute mark, when Sidberry unloaded three two pointers back to back. Sophomore Gianna Kneepkens came through with a jaw-dropping steal at the buzzer to put a quick two points on the board, bringing the Utes to 26-18.

Heading into the second quarter, the Utes looked to up their lead into the double digits, as the Thunderbirds continued to hold on a little too close. McQueen led the quarter with an important three assists, helping Sidberry and Kneepkens put a few up on the board. The Utes hit their largest lead of the game thus far at 41-28, achieving a 54% shooting average at the end of the first half.

Fired up for the third quarter, the Utes seemed to have overcome their slightly slow start and began to turn things around. Jenna Johnson opened the second half with a quick two pointer, to which Southern Utah responded with a couple of two pointers. McQueen came back to deliver her second three pointer of the game, bringing the tally up to 61-39. Sophomore Ines Vieira subbed in and knocked off a quick three, seemingly stunning the defense. McQueen and Sidberry fired off a three each back to back to close out the third quarter, sitting at 73-42.

Coming into the last quarter feeling more like themselves, the Utes were able to up their scoring percent to 58 to end the night in a good spot. Vieira claimed another three pointer at the start, and Pili followed up with a layup to add 2 more on top of it. Another quick three shot by Kneepkens brought the Utes soaring to 86-50, and before long the game finished out at 90-56.

In a post-game press conference, Utes head coach Lynne Roberts expressed the team’s feelings ahead of beginning regular conference competition.

It was a great game, and just big-picture, pre-conference is over,” she said. “To start 12-0 and to be doing as well as we are is fantastic and I think we’re ready for Pac-12 play.”

Now, the team will enjoy just over a week’s worth of rest before heading off to begin Pac-12 competition. With the start of the new year, the Utes will look to preserve their record and remain undefeated as they face Washington State on the 30th, followed by the University of Washington on New Year’s Day. 


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