Utah Women’s Basketball Tough Out Win Against ASU Without Alissa Pili

Feb 19, 2023, 2:07 PM | Updated: 2:07 pm

TEMPE, AZ – After suffering a tough loss Friday night against Arizona, Utah women’s basketball regrouped and toughed out a win against ASU without star player, Alissa Pili.

Pili got hurt late in Utah’s loss to the Wildcats and sat out against the Sun Devils. While the game had its dicey moments for the Utes, they were able to prevail, 74 – 69.

With Pili unavailable, Peyton McFarland was a key player defensively with nine rebounds, but was also a force under the post on the offensive side for Utah as well with nine points on the afternoon. Also stepping up, Gianna Kneepkens knocked down 22 points for the Utes with Jenna Johnson on her heels accounting for 15 points.

Utah, ASU Quarter One

With Alissa Pili sitting on the bench and not dressed, the Utes had some issues getting going early in Tempe. ASU built up a 9-0 lead before Kelcey Rees put three on the board for the Utes. Jenna Johnson followed it up with two off the board to make it an 11-5 game with five on the clock.

Turnovers continued to be an issue for Utah (7 compared to 1) allowing the Sun Devils to continue building a lead with little effort, 13-7. Peyton McFarland put two on the board making the game a 17-9 affair with 2:39 on the clock. Ines Viera knocked a three down with Gianna Kneepkens wrapping up the quarter with one off the board to make the score 23-16 in ASU’s favor.

Utes, Sun Devils Quarter Two

Teya Sidberry got the first bucket of the second quarter for Utah cutting into ASU’s lead, 23-18. Utah spent much of the second quarter in a scoring drought going 0-8 in a span of three minutes. McFarland finally broke the spell with a layup making the score 27-21 with under five on the clock.

Kneepkens hit the jumper two further cutting the Sun Devil’s lead 27-23 with Issy Palmer draining a three before the first break in the quarter, 27-26. Kneepkens hit a three out of the break giving Utah their first lead of the afternoon with under two minutes to play in the half, 29-27. The Utes continued to play tough and went into the half with the lead, 31-29.

Utah, ASU Quarter Three

After the half the Sun Devils got off to a hot start regaining the lead, 35-31, but Kneepkens cut the score down to 35-33. ASU answered again making it a 37-33 lead around the seven-minute mark of the third quarter. McFarland hit a two followed by a trip to the line for Sidberry to tie the game up at 38.

Kennady McQueen hit a three with just under six minutes to play giving Utah the lead once more, 41-38. McFarland continued her welcome back tour on the cleanup giving Utah a four-point lead, 44-40 with 3:26 left in the third quarter. With 1:05 left in the third quarter Utah and ASU were tied at 48 until Johnson went to the line to make it a 49-48 game.

Utah ended the quarter in the back in the lead, 52-51.

Utes, Sun Devils Final Quarter

Johnson turned it on in the fourth quarter hitting two layups, while freshman Loni White finished up her trip to the line, 2-2 giving the Utes a narrow 57-55 lead. ASU took the lead back knocking down a big three but Kneepkens acted quickly hitting a layup tying the game again with 6:23 left to play at 59.

Palmer pushed her way to the basket to regain the lead, 61-59. Kneepkens went to the board again, extending Utah’s lead, 63-59 with 4:47 left to play. ASU made quick work of tying the game back up with 1:31 left at 65. A foul on Kneepkens sent her to the line putting Utah back on top, 67-65.

Johnson took a key trip to the line knocking down both shots to give the Utes a 69-65 advantage with 40 seconds left to play, pretty much securing the win.

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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Utah Women’s Basketball Tough Out Win Against ASU Without Alissa Pili