No. 3 Utah Falls Short Against Washington State in the Pac-12 Tournament


Xiangyao Tang

The University of Utah women’s basketball guard Inês Vieira (2) takes on the Washington State Cougars at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, NV, on Thursday, March 2, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Max Valva, Sports Writer


This week, the Utah women’s basketball team traveled to Las Vegas to participate in the 2023 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament. After qualifying for a first-round bye, Utah got to sit back and watch their eventual opponent the Washington State Cougars defeat UC Berkeley on Wednesday.

However, the Utes proved that a first-round bye isn’t always beneficial, as they entered Thursday’s matchup against Washington State not on their A-game and fell short to the Cougars 66-58. Utah entered the tournament as the two seed, while Washington State was the seventh.

The game started out neck and neck for much of the first half. With less than thirty seconds left in the first quarter, guard Gianna Kneepkens hit a three that put Utah up 16-13 after one quarter of play. The game stayed close for much of the second quarter with the Utes going into the half with a 30-26 lead. 

The Utes were unable to keep that momentum riding into the second, as they came back from the half struggling to score. Washington State went on a huge 14-0 run to end the third quarter in which the Cougars sank four threes, putting Utah behind by 12 going into the fourth. 

Despite falling short, Utah stayed in the game until the end. The Utes looked like they were gaining momentum back as Kneepkens banked a three off the backboard to open the fourth. Unfortunately for Utah, Kneepkens was the only one hitting her threes as the team went 5-21 behind the arc for the game.

Star guard Issy Palmer did not play the game, a player the Utes would have loved to have due to her spacing and jump shot. With eight seconds left in the game, WSU’s Charlisse Leger-Walker made a game-icing 3-point shot to put the Utes away. The final score ended 66-58 in favor of the Cougs.

After the tough loss, the Utes will have some time to recoup before heading to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, where they will likely now be a two seed. The timing of those games has yet to be determined. 


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