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No. 18 Utah Women’s Basketball Splits Final Homestand of the Season

After defeating Washington State and falling to Washington, the Utes look forward to facing Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Utah+guard+Matyson+Wilke+%2823%29+during+the+game+versus+the+Washington+Huskies+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Saturday%2C+March+2%2C+2024.+%28Photo+by+Mary+Allen+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Mary Allen
Utah guard Matyson Wilke (23) during the game versus the Washington Huskies at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 2, 2024. (Photo by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The No. 18 University of Utah women’s basketball team returned home for the final weekend of the regular season. After taking care of Washington State on Thursday, the Utes fell short against the Washington Huskies on Saturday.

Washington State

Alissa Pili wasted no time getting started against Washington State, as she swished a quick 3-pointer on Utah’s first possession of the game. This set the tone for a dominant first quarter for the Utes, as the threes kept coming. After Maty Wilke hit a three, she made a nice pass to Pili on the next possession, who scored a wide open layup. Pili and Kennady McQueen both nailed threes on the subsequent Utes possessions, and they led 14-2 not even three minutes into the game. The Cougars responded with six unanswered points, but then Utah scored seven in a row, capped off by another McQueen triple. After Lani White scored at the end of the quarter, Utah held a 25-10 lead going into the second quarter.

Washington State scored the first six points of the second quarter before McQueen scored for the Utes. A few moments later, Inês Vieira made a beautiful transition pass to Dasia Young, who scored despite being fouled. She then hit the free throw to finish off the 3-point play, and Utah led 31-18. Washington State’s offense really got going in the second quarter, but Utah’s offense stayed in rhythm and kept the lead intact. The Utes did a tremendous job of swinging the ball around and keeping everyone involved. It seemed like every basket was coming off an assist. The Cougars did cut the lead to just six in the final minute of the first half, but McQueen snuck around a Pili screen and nailed the open 3-point shot. McQueen scored again to finish out the half, giving the Utes a 45-34 halftime lead.

The Utes converted a beautiful play right as the second half started, as McQueen cut to the rim after handing the ball off to Vieira, and Vieira made a perfect pass to give McQueen an open layup. A couple minutes later, McQueen found a wide open Jenna Johnson for two more. Johnson then returned the favor, finding McQueen on a back cut for another open layup. The Utes were consistently able to attack the rim in the third quarter, as Vieira drove and scored a few moments later to make it 55-42 Utah. This was the beginning of an 11-0 run that really blew the game open. The Cougars scored with just over a minute left in the period to end the run, but White scored right after and Utah led 66-44 heading into the fourth.

The Cougars offense got going again in the fourth quarter with 23 points, but it was too little too late. Vieira opened the period by draining a wide open three, and she hit another one a few moments later from basically the same spot. It was pretty smooth sailing from that point on, and the Utes picked up an 82-67 win. 

It was an offensive clinic from Utah, as the team shot 54% from the field and 44% from three. The Utes also picked up 25 assists as a team. McQueen led the way with 22 points on a very efficient 9/13 shooting. Pili picked up a double double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Vieira had 13 points with six assists. White had one of her best games of the season as well, scoring 11 points with five rebounds.

Washington

Saturday was Senior Day at the U, with three seniors getting honored: Alissa Pili, Isabel Palmer and Dasia Young. All three transferred in from other schools and have been key contributors to one of the most successful stretches in program history.

Unfortunately, Washington got off to a sizzling start and never looked back, as the Utes struggled to find an offensive rhythm for much of the game. The Huskies nailed each of their first three 3-point attempts, helping them build an early 13-6 lead. Johnson scored Utah’s first basket off of a great pass from Pili. This was followed by baskets from Pili and Wilke, but then the Utes went on a scoring drought that lasted nearly four minutes. Vieira drove and scored to end the drought. After falling behind 15-8, the Utes finished the first quarter strong with back-to-back threes from McQueen and Wilke, and they cut the deficit to 17-16 at the end of one.

It was a brutal second quarter for both sides, as the Huskies only scored 10 in the period and the Utes only managed five. McQueen drove and scored at around the 5:20 mark, but that was Utah’s only field goal until Wilke scored in the paint off a Pili assist in the final minute. That made the score 27-21 Washington heading into the half. 

Washington’s defense was swarming all day, as it seemed Utah struggled to get open looks. The Huskies interior defense made it tough for Utah to attack the basket, and the 3-point shots just weren’t falling. The Utes shot just 31% from the field and 18% from three as a team. 

Wilke made a nice play to give Utah their first points of the second half, as she drove and scored to make it 31-23 Huskies about two and a half minutes in. Washington’s lead slowly grew throughout the period, as the missed shots and turnovers stacked up for Utah. The lead grew all the way to 41-24, before a shooting foul and technical foul gave Pili four free throws. She hit three of them, and because of the technical foul, Utah got the ball back. Vieira drilled a three, capping off a rare six-point possession and bringing life back into the Huntsman Center. Young then drove and scored, cutting it to 41-32, but Washington hit a deep three with the shot clock expiring that took the energy away from the crowd. The third quarter ended with Washington up 46-34.

The fourth quarter was much of the same, as Utah was unable to get things going and struggling to mount a comeback. Vieira made some plays in the fourth, scoring a couple of difficult layups in the paint. She also recorded a couple of assists in the period, but it was too little too late. The game ended with Washington winning 62-47.

The Utes now look to put this loss behind them as they head to Las Vegas next week for the Pac-12 Tournament. The bracket is available to see here. The Utes sit at No. 6 in the conference standings, and will face the No. 11 Arizona State Sun Devils on Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. MST. With a win, Utah would move on to face the No. 3 UCLA Bruins the following night, also at 9:30.

 

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About the Contributors
Isaac Dunaway, Sports Writer
Isaac Dunaway is a sports 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.
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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