Utah Women’s Basketball Tops Arizona in Thriller


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 Max Valva, Sports Writer


The No. 10 University of Utah women’s basketball team played host to the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats in the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Sunday. The season’s largest crowd got to experience a close and exciting game that featured a last-second Ute victory, by a score of 80-79. With the win the Utes improve to 15-1 on the season and 5-1 in Pac-12 play.

The fourth quarter featured eight lead changes, including two in the final 10 seconds of the game. After giving up a go-ahead layup with less than five seconds left to make the score 79-78 in favor of Arizona, all hope looked lost. However, when Utah inbounded the ball for their last shot of the game, Ute forward Alissa Pili was fouled down low and got the opportunity to win at the line. Already having 25 points in the contest, Pili nailed both free throws to finish the game with 27 points and secure a Utah victory. 

One key contributor to the Utes win was sophomore guard Gianna Kneepkens. In 33 minutes of play time, she put up 20 points going 7-11 from the field and was able to grab seven rebounds. She also was able to nail several clutch free throws in the fourth that ended up being key to the Utes’ success.

The Utes shot 13-20 from the free throw line compared to Arizona’s 9-16, and constantly put themselves in position to get to the line.

What a great game …” said head coach Lynne Roberts in a postgame press conference. “Arizona’s good, and I thought it was just back and forth the whole time. We answered their runs, they answered our runs … just a really hard-fought game by both teams. I couldn’t be more proud of our group. We turned it over twice … we go down one with 1.6 seconds left. I just love that we didn’t panic. We didn’t panic [because] we work on end-of-game situations all the time. We’ve run that before in practice. And Alissa [Pili] just made a heck of a play. Caught it, the pass [by Kneepkens] was a bit long but perfect because it was [far] from the defense. And then Alissa had enough time to gather, go up and draw the foul, which is great. The play before that when Gianna attacked on a high ball screen and got the and-one, made the free throw … just big-time players making big plays in big games. But tip my hat to Arizona. I thought they played really well. Just a great, great college basketball game.”

The Utes will be looking to continue their winning ways against top-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto this upcoming Friday. This will be the Utes’ toughest test of the season as Stanford only has two losses on the year, so make sure to tune into the Pac-12 network to cheer on your Lady Utes.


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