Utah Women’s Basketball Continues Breaking Down Barriers, Setting Program Records
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah women’s basketball has been on an impressive run since postseason of last year and that upward trajectory appears to have no stopping point yet.
The Utes finished 2022 as runners up in the Pac-12 Tournament making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2011. 2023 is on pace to crush that.
Utah currently sits at No. 7 in the country according to the latest AP Poll and are enjoying their longest streak of consecutive weeks in the Top-25 in program history at 13. With a 20-2 record, the Utes currently sit tied for first in the Pac-12 with Stanford.
Thursday night, the NCAA revealed their first Top-16 for March Madness with Utah coming in at No. 6 and would be slated as a two-seed if the tournament was held today.
.@MarchMadnessWBB’s first Top 16 rankings just dropped 👀
🏀 No. 1 seed @StanfordWBB
🏀 No. 2 seed @UTAHWBB
Tickets for the #Pac12WBB Tournament are on sale, get yours now! ⤵️
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) February 10, 2023
Pili, Kneepkens Best In The Game
On top of the team-wide accolades, Utah women’s basketball boasts two players who have been recently recognized as some of the best players in the game for the 2023 season.
Alissa Pili has been a lightning rod of success this season for the Utes.
This week, Pili was recognized as the Pac-12 Player of the Week. Pili has also been named to several postseason award watch lists; the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 Watch List, Katrina McClain Midseason Watchlist and the Naismith Trophy midseason Watchlist. Pili leads the team in scoring (20.9, 1st Pac-12, 15th NCAA) and ranks 11th in the nation (1st Pac-12) in field-goal percentage (60.7%). She currently sits at No. 9 nationally in total made field goals with 184. Pili has also topped 1,000 career points.
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Gianna Kneepkens’ success out on the court has been a little quieter, but no less valuable for the Utes.
Kneepkens was recently named to the Cheryl Miller Award watch list for the best small forward and currently ranks 11th in the nation in three-point shooting percentage (44.1%), No.1 among Pac-12 players.
While their names may not be on postseason award watch lists, the Utes have two other athletes along with Pili (20.9 per game) and Kneepkens (14.8 per game) that consistently hit double-digit scoring in Jenna Johnson (11.3 per game) and Kennady McQueen (10 per game) making Utah one of the best offensive teams in the country at No. 4.
If Not Now, When?
The Utes are home this weekend hosting Washington and Washington State and as always, hoping new fans (along with their loyal crew) will take some time to come check out what they can do out on the court.
There are only 4 home games left this season🤯
We need your 𝑬𝑵𝑬𝑹𝑮𝒀 ⚡️#BringTheNoise | #GoUtes pic.twitter.com/degAmkrvvt
— Utah Women’s Basketball (@UTAHWBB) February 9, 2023
Their home stretch starts tonight at 7:00 pm MT as they host the Huskies at the Huntsman Center in their celebration of Women in Sports. Utah will then welcome in the Cougars on Sunday with a 12:00 pm MT tip before Super Bowl kicks off.
Utah will continue their “Beyond the Paint” community initiative with this week’s focus being on the Food Justice Coalition in Salt Lake City. Head coach Lynne Roberts will be donating $100 to the Food Justice Coalition for every three-point shot the Utes make during Friday and Sunday’s contests.
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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