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Home Stretch — Episode 12: Utah Women’s Basketball Mid-Season Recap

In this episode, host Kyle Garrison sits down with Stevie Shaughnessey and Brooke Hale to chat about the recent wins the Utah Women’s Basketball team has had and their upcoming games.
Mary Allen
(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Kyle Garrison: Welcome to the Home Stretch, The Daily Utah Chronicle sports podcast. My name is Kyle Garrison. Today, I’ll be your host. I’m here with Stevie Shaughnessy and Brooke Hale and we’re going to discuss the Utah Women’s Basketball team, and their two huge upset wins over top 10 opponents, UCLA and USC. Welcome to the podcast Stevie and Brooke.

Brooke Hale: Thank you for having us.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Thanks for having us, Kyle.

Kyle Garrison: So yeah, the Utes have been absolutely on fire coming off a win against sixth-ranked USC at home. Let’s talk about Alissa Pili’s 30-point game performance and what are your guys’ thoughts on that?

Brooke Hale: She is on fire, like every game there’s something so impressive with her play, Like either racking up a ton of points, racking up a bunch of assists. Like, she’s been so consistent for this Utah team, and it’s so fun to watch her.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Yeah, she has just been on fire. I’m not sure if you guys saw that she got selected for the Katrina McClain award, and this is one of the top 10 to be in there. She’s just doing great. I mean, she’s really helping the Utes go up another level this year.

Kyle Garrison: So yeah, with five other Pac-12 schools also ranked in the top 25 along with Utah, what are your predictions moving forward with Utah standings in the Pac-12?

Brooke Hale: Yeah, I mean, they have some big games still ahead of them. They have Oregon State this week. They’re ranked I think 25. So, and they have to play at UCLA again, so there’s some big games coming, coming up, but I for sure think that the Utes, if they continue this play and continue to play confident, I think they can for sure be at the top of the pack this year.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Yeah, and going off that, I mean, obviously beating these high-ranked teams like USC and UCLA, that’s got to be a confidence booster for the team. That definitely is going to have them have high energy going to these next few games. Oregon has been in a little bit of a slump lately, so I think that they should be able to dominate them pretty easily. Oregon State just got ranked number 25, so obviously, they’re on an upswing, I think that’s going to be more of a tougher game for us. But yeah, I think that with these top-ranked teams that we’ve beaten, it’s just kind of shown people that we can really compete against these high-ranked teams. We can compete against teams that, you know, are better than us and have ranked better than us.

Brooke Hale: 100%. And I think too, like winning these big games at home gives them confidence moving forward for their upcoming home games and going on the road, knowing that they can beat these teams at home, giving, giving them the confidence and moving forward, I think is so important for this team.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Yeah, it’s going to be interesting to see how we compete on the road, since especially all these big wins we’ve had have been at home with, you know, the crowd and with somewhere were familiar at. So it’s gonna be interesting to see how we compare on the road.

Kyle Garrison: So with the NCAA tournament coming up, in just a month and a half or so, what are your guys’ thoughts on if Utah can make the same run as they did last year, and how their success will pan out in the NCAA tournament?

Brooke Hale: I think it’s just game by game. Like, I think they have the talent, obviously, to move forward and far again in this tournament. I think just staying healthy, still just being consistent of like what they know, is successful for this team. I mean, they’re ranked number eight in the nation for scoring, averaging 86 points per game. Also, they’re number six in the nation and field goal percentage, like they know what they’re good at. I think they can make it far in this tournament. Again, I think just staying healthy and being consistent of what they do best is going to be so key for them.

Stevie Shaughnessey: I mean, last year, we were seeded as number two. So, I think that is definitely something that’s difficult to compete with year on year. But I think we could do it. I mean, we’ve had, as we’ve seen, Alissa Pili nominated for these awards, and we have players that are consistently doing well. We’re consistently beating high-ranked teams. I think that again, going back, when we beat UCLA, when we beat USC and then UCLA, it proved that we weren’t just kind of a one and done team. It proved that we could continuously beat these high-ranked teams. So I think that we could have a good run this year.

Kyle Garrison: Yeah. Brooke, you mentioned the field goal percentage, and I just had a note here that Alissa Pili, obviously, she’s our most prolific scorer, she’s shooting the ball at a 61.2% clip. When your most prolific scorer is doing that, it’s really hard to beat a team. Not to mention, she’s putting up almost double the amount of threes she’s ever put up in her career putting up 4.1 a game and she’s knocking down 1.8 at a 45.5% clip, which is just absolutely unbelievable in college basketball so just wanted to mention that little stat that I thought was pretty cool. But yeah, coming off in another huge win against USC knocking off the two California schools back to back, were you guys confident with the Utes going into the UCLA game? 

Brooke Hale: 100%. I think USC, that was like their first high ranked win of the season. So, going off that win, going into the UCLA game, knowing that they are a high ranked team, again, gave them probably the confidence at home, in front of the home stands like, I think, personally, I thought it was gonna be a great game and obviously was going into overtime. Like, that was a huge win, and it was so exciting to watch.

Stevie Shaughnessey: It was a really great game to watch, and especially seeing that USC game going to UCLA, I mean, it was obvious that the energy was up on the team. I’m not gonna lie, I was worried, playing these high ranked teams ever since Gianna Kneepkens, you know, she got her injury, she’s been out. After her absence, we saw that, you know, we had a few losses, we had a few losses, and obviously, the team was having a hard time adjusting. But going back to Alissa Pili, I mean, she’s like their star player. She really is helping this team and I think she’s the one on the court leading the team, leading in scoring and just she has this energy about her that really shows that you know, she’s in charge, and she knows what she’s doing, and I think she’s really helped the team kind of carry through even times of doubt, when you know, Kneepkens got injured. I think she’s definitely helped carry the team through this time of doubt, and help them stay confident and stay high energy throughout these high ranked teams and playing other teams.

Kyle Garrison: Moving on to the actual UCLA game, so I noticed Pili obviously had an unbelievable performance against USC, but her numbers were a little bit down in the UCLA game, but we were still able to get it done. What were your guys’ kind of thoughts on the UCLA game as a whole?

Brooke Hale: I think it was a team effort. I mean, there were so many players that there’s a couple players that got double digits in that game, all contributed, I mean, to every team, Alissa is going to be on the scout scouting report, like, to watch. So other players are going to have to step up and help her out, and I think that showed in this game, and it was a huge team win, and I think everyone stepped up.

Stevie Shaughnessey: I know, we’d also talked about Kennady McQueen. She had a high season performance of 21 points and nine rebounds. Again, it’s great having not just one player, you know, do great. I mean, it’s great having several players that are just consistently scoring high, and three other players on the Utes had, you know, 16 points. We’re a big high scoring team. Everyone is contributing. It’s awesome to see, you know, it’s awesome to see that everyone is relying on each other and trusts each other to score and have these points.

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, is there anything else that stood out to you guys in the UCLA game or in the USC game, just in general?

Brooke Hale: I think for me, just like both, both games were team wins, like, everyone contributed, and I think that’s so exciting, and something that they need to carry on throughout the rest of Pac-12 play going on the road. I think it’s super exciting to see these big wins and, you know, seeing the MUSS show up, seeing the support, like, everyone’s, obviously, has their eyes on the women’s basketball team right now and it’s super exciting, and I think they deserve the recognition because they’re playing amazing.

Stevie Shaughnessey: And again, that UCLA game was a battle for the Utes. I mean, we went overtime, tied 72-72. It was a physical battle, it was an intense battle, and again, I just think we really showed that we can consistently be high ranked teams, and we can consistently, you know, we have the endurance to keep playing the whole game. We don’t, we’re not just a first half team or second half team, we have the endurance to actually play the whole game and play the whole game well, and we went into the half of the lead, I think, which was a big advantage for us when we go into halftime having little bit of a lead. But again, UCLA came back in the second half, and then we tied them up and we held them in overtime and it was a great game to watch. It was a battle, and we prove that we have the endurance and the skills to keep battling, and to come out on top.

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, as the women’s team really, really picks up fire. Do you guys have any final thoughts on any previous games or any games in the future that you want to tap into?

Stevie Shaughnessey: I am just really excited to see the rest of their season. It’s really exciting to, you know, see them compete against other ranked teams. I know they have Colorado coming up again, like we said, Oregon, and then some other teams like Washington. It’s gonna be really awesome to see. Kyle, I know you had mentioned some of the NCAA tournament with women’s.

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, I was just saying it’s kind of cool to see. I know last year, the women’s team really was, was kind of the shining star of the basketball program. But it’s nice to see the men’s teams kind of starting to pick it back up, and I think it’s gonna be really cool because I do believe both teams are gonna make the NCAA tournament, and there’s not a lot of schools that can say both their women’s and men’s team are going to make it, and it’s really cool to see. There’s some studs like Alissa Pili and Branden Carlson, and they’re both senior, fifth-year senior leaders, coming in leading the team, leading the charge, making an impact on and off the court. So, I’m really excited just for both programs coming together and just really finding success this year. It’s been really cool to see.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Yeah, it’s been awesome to see Utah becoming more of a basketball school. Excited for more games, and the games have definitely been getting more electric and more people there. So, hopefully we can get more of a crowd going in. 

Brooke Hale: I know. The MUSS needs to keep showing up because I think these teams have both a bright future moving forward and it’ll be exciting to see they’re running in the tournament.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Yeah. 

Kyle Garrison: Awesome. Well, thanks for listening to the Home Stretch. Stay tuned every week for new episodes as we break down the latest news from Utah Athletics.


Transcribed by

Producer: Stevie Shaughnessey —  [email protected]   | @steviechrony

Hosts: Kyle Garrison — [email protected] | @Kylegarr23

Brooke Hale — [email protected]  | @brookehale_

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About the Contributors
Stevie Shaughnessey
Stevie Shaughnessey, Home Stretch Producer, Host
Stevie is a junior transfer student at the U who is majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism, and minoring in documentary studies. In her free time, Stevie likes to take part in many different activities, such as dirt bike riding, snowboarding and photography.
Kyle Garrison
Kyle Garrison, Assistant Sports Editor
Kyle garrison grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan. He moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Kyle plans on pursuing broadcast journalism as a career once graduating from the University of Utah. Kyle started with the Chronicle this fall and has loved every minute of working with the team.
Brooke Hale
Brooke Hale, Home Stretch Host
Brooke Hale joined the Daily Utah Chronicle’s Sports Desk Podcast as a producer in the spring of 2024. She is studying Communications at the University of Utah. She recently completed her D1 soccer career at the U. She grew up in Danville, California. In her free time, she loves watching all sports, being outdoors, working out and traveling.
Mary Allen
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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