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Utah Women’s Basketball Wins Great Alaska Shootout

The Utes traveled to Anchorage, Alaska this past week to participate in the Great Alaska Shootout, winning against Alaska Anchorage and Eastern Kentucky.
Xiangyao Tang
University of Utah women’s basketball guard Lani White (3) and guard Kennady McQueen (24) in the game versus the Princeton Tigers at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, March 19, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

The University of Utah women’s basketball team put on a strong show
in the Great Alaska Shootout this weekend in Anchorage. They defeated Alaska Anchorage 101-57 on Saturday and followed that up with a 117-72 victory over Eastern Kentucky. The Utes have now scored at least 100 points in four of their first five games this season.

Alaska Anchorage

Utah picked up their first road win of the season on Saturday against the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. The Utes jumped ahead early in this game and never really looked back. Gianna Kneepkens drilled a three-pointer less than ten seconds in. After back-to-back layups from Kennady McQueen and Kneepkens, Utah had a 7-0 lead. Alaska Anchorage did cut it to 11-9 a few minutes later, but that’s as close as they got the rest of the night. After one, Utah held a 32-18 lead.

Utah scored the first ten points of the second quarter, with five of those coming from Alissa Pili. The Utes held the Seawolves scoreless for the first three and a half minutes of the quarter. Freshman Reese Ross was subbed in about halfway through the quarter and made an instant impact. She scored five quick points on a layup and a three-pointer. Not long after she stole the ball and picked up a fastbreak basket. This sequence helped the Utes go into halftime with a 56-28 lead.

It was more of the same in the second half. The Utes put up an offensive clinic throughout the game, shooting 61% from the field as a team. Although they didn’t shoot as many threes as in previous games, they were incredibly efficient from behind the line, making 11 of 24 attempts. Kneepkens led the way for the Utes with 22 points and four three-pointers, and Ross deserves a lot of credit too. She recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds in just 19 minutes of playing time. Inês Vieira also recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 assists. Vieira was on the court for 33 of the 40 total minutes of Utah’s 101-57 victory.

Eastern Kentucky

The Utes followed this up with another dominant game on Sunday night, this time against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Utah somehow put up an even better offensive performance, shooting a ridiculous 65.7% from the field and 64.3% from the three-point line.

The first quarter was mostly back and forth. After Eastern Kentucky tied the game at 15 apiece, Sam Crispe hit a three to retake the lead for the Utes. Crispe, a transfer from Boston University, scored again moments later, catapulting Utah to a 27-19 lead at the end of one. McQueen started the second quarter with a bang, scoring five points within the first two minutes of the period. This was the best defensive quarter of the game for the Utes. The Colonels only managed 13 points in the second quarter, and the Utes built a 51-32 lead at the half.

It was a strong performance in the first half for sure, but Utah turned things up another notch in the second half. The Utes made a ridiculous 10 out of 13 three pointers in the second half, anchored by Kneepkens’s shooting display. She shot a perfect 4 for 4 from behind the line in the third quarter, marking 12 of her 23 total points. Eastern Kentucky played a good third quarter offensively, but just couldn’t keep up with the Utes, who scored 31 in the quarter.

Utah followed this up with 35 more points in the fourth quarter. Pili scored 13 of these in the fourth, highlighted by an and one shot with a little over four minutes left, marking Utah’s 100th point of the night. She finished with 28 points and 8 rebounds and was named MVP of the Great Alaska Shootout. Pili, along with Kneepkens and Vieira were named to the Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament Team for their efforts as well.

The Utes come home for a three-game home stand at the Huntsman Center. They host Merrimack this Friday, followed by matchups against Carroll College and rival BYU next week.


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About the Contributors
Isaac Dunaway, Sports Writer
Isaac Dunaway is a news writer for The Daily Utah Chronicle. He started this position in October 2021. He is a sophomore at the University of Utah studying communication with an emphasis in journalism. He is also a proud member of the University of Utah Marching Band. He is a native of Salt Lake City.
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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