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Utah Women Win Thriller Against Arizona On Free-Throws

Jan 15, 2023, 2:15 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – After nearly a month away from the Huntsman Center, the No. 10 Utes returned home to take on the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats in an exciting Top 25 battle in women’s hoops.

Utah and Arizona spent much of the game going back and forth with both teams having their dominate moments in front of a rowdy crowd. However, Utah eventually brought the victory home after Alissa Pili went to the line with just seconds remaining in the game, 80-79.

First Half

The Utes got off to a slow start against the Arizona Wildcats Sunday afternoon at the Huntsman Center falling into a 7-0 hole early. However, Issy Palmer go Utah’s first points of the day to get things going, followed by Alissa Pili bullying her way to the basket to cut Arizona’s lead, 7-4.

The Wildcats continued to lead much of the first quarter, but the Utes kept chipping away at it and eventually took their first lead of the day after Kennady McQueen sank a three-point shot followed by Pili putting points on the board.

Arizona wouldn’t go away that easily however, and the game would go back-and-forth for a bit. At one point the Utes built up a solid lead, but the Wildcats would manage to reel it back in, 34-31 in their favor.

Pili continued to be a dominate force for Utah leading the team at halftime with 17 points, while teammate Jenna Johnson brought down the rebounds with four and assists with three. Utah went into the half with the narrow lead over Arizona after a hard-fought battle, 42-40.

The Utes would also end the half with five made three-point shots which head coach Lynne Roberts pledged to donate $200 for every shot made for the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge.

Second Half

The battle raged on after halftime with Utah building a little bit of a lead only to have Arizona come back and close the gap. Kennady McQueen got the Huntsman crowd back into the game pretty quick with a big three-point shot that the Utes continued to build off off.

The Utes continued to build a lead for much of the third quarter. Gianna Kneepkens put one off the glass in-between a series of Arizona fouls to put Utah in a good position, 53-47.

However, Arizona persisted and Utah ended the third quarter with a couple of bad series that allowed the Wildcats to come within three before the buzzer.

Arizona wasted no time coming out of the quarter break and sinking the three they needed to tie the game up at 56.

The game continued to stay tied through most of the fourth quarter with both teams continuing to go back and forth. Palmer with 4:47 left tied the game up again while getting a chance at the free throw line but was injured in the process.

Kneepkens goes on a run to give Utah a little breathing room, but a trip to the line late with 1:47 left to play ties the game back up at 73.

Kneepkens continued to fight and show guts late into the fourth quarter hitting one off the glass and going to the line for one free throw shot that gave the Utes a one-point lead with just 39 seconds left to play. She would later make another trip to the line with 22 seconds left and make both shots extending Utah’s lead, 78-75.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

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