No. 4 Utah Women Fall to No. 18 Arizona In Physical Battle In Tucson

Feb 17, 2023, 9:26 PM | Updated: Feb 18, 2023, 4:28 pm

TUCSON, AZ – The No. 4 Utah women’s basketball team hit the road to take on the No. 18 Arizona Wildcats and came up short in Tucson.

A slow start and mistakes plagued a team in the Utes that has played nearly flawlessly all season long, falling to the Wildcats 82-72. Utah will split the record with Arizona whom they beat a month ago at the Huntsman Center in a last-second thriller.

Despite suffering what appeared to be an ankle sprain late in the game, Alissa Pili still put-up great numbers for the Utes, leading the team in points with 26 while also accounting for five rebounds and two steals.

Friday’s affair was high on fouls for both teams with Arizona racking up 26 personal fouls while Utah had 23.

Utah, Arizona Quarter One

By the five-minute mark of the first quarter Utah trailed the Wildcats 10-5. Early on shots were hard to come by and mistakes cost the Utes opportunities to get off to a strong start.

Head coach Lynne Roberts called timeout to regroup her team by the 2:39 mark of the first quarter. Arizona was up 20-10 by that point shooting 60% from the field while the Utes were struggling at 40%.

Utah cut Arizona’s lead down to five by the end of the quarter, 22-17.

Utes, Wildcats Quarter Two

Out of the break, Alissa Pili hit a big three making it a four-point game, 24-20. Pili continued her dominance going 3-3 from the field and 1-1 from the three in the first seven minutes of the quarter and helping to cut Arizona’s lead, to three points, 30-27.

Thanks to Gianna Kneepkens hitting another key three got Utah’s first lead of the game at the five-minute mark, 32-30, but Arizona was quick to answer and tie the game. The Utes continued their positive run going 3-3 on field goals into the three-minute mark of the game and keeping a narrow lead, 38-37.

At halftime, the Wildcats were up by four, 44-40. The Utes improved their shooting 54% from the field, and 38% from the three. Pili led the team with 17 points while Kneepkens led the team in rebounds with three and Issy Palmer reigned supreme with four assists.

Utah, Arizona Quarter Three

Utah came out slow to start the third quarter allowing Arizona to build their lead back up, 51-44. Meanwhile, the Wildcats stacked up fouls on top of points with four players at three fouls at the five-minute mark of the quarter.

Palmer got to go to the line for four points and made them all due to a technical foul cutting the score, 53-49, while Utah also maintained possession. The Wildcats got their turn at the line to extend their lead, 55-49 with under five minutes to play.

The Utes seemingly lost control of the game around the three-minute mark after a series of three turnovers.

The third quarter ended with the Utes trailing 63-53 to the Wildcats. Utah turned the ball over six times in the quarter leading to eight easy Arizona points.

Utes, Wildcats Quarter Four

Dasia Young drove to the basket early in the fourth quarter to give the Utes a boost despite still trailing, 65-57.  The Wildcats made sure to extend their lead back to 10 quickly, 67-57. After exiting the game with a twisted ankle, Pili entered the game again and made an instant impact chipping away at Arizona’s lead, 69-61 with a little over five minutes left to play.

With two minutes left to play, Arizona had a 72-66 lead with an opportunity to go to the line extending it to 74-66. Johnson responded with a three to get within five, 74-69 with under two left to play.

Pili hit the board with an opportunity at the line with just over a minute to play making it a 76-72 game. An intentional foul for Palmer sent the Wildcats to the line moving the line 78-72 in their favor with under one to play.

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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No. 4 Utah Women Fall to No. 18 Arizona In Physical Battle In Tucson