Utah Puts Away Gardner-Webb, Advances To Second Round Of NCCA Tournament

Mar 17, 2023, 7:37 PM | Updated: 7:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah came out on fire to tip0ff March Madness in Salt Lake City, putting away Gardner-Webb and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Utes took home the victory 103 – 77 over the Bulldogs while shooting 59% from the field and 44% from the three. Utah was impressive rebounding the ball bringing down 44 and hitting assists with 32.

One area of concern for the Utes as they look to advancing to Sunday’s game at the Huntsman Center is turnovers, ending the night with 18 and giving Gardner-Webb 17 easy points.

Gardner-Webb, Utah First Quarter

Jenna Johnson started things off for the Utes with an assist from Alissa Pili to put Utah up 2-0 early in the contest. The Bulldogs took the lead with 7:46 on the clock in the first quarter, 4-3 after a trip to the line and a three-point shot. Pili wasted little time answering back and getting a trip to the line to give the Utes the lead back. 6-4.

By the 5:40 mark in the first quarter, Utah built up a comfortable 14-8 lead over the Bulldogs in a fast-paced game. Gardner-Webb cut Utah’s lead down to four with 4:27 left in the first quarter. Pili helped extend the lead off of a Sidberry pass, 18-10 before the Bulldogs answered back to make it 18-12.

Johnson and Kelsey Rees hit a quick four-points with freshman Loni White landing a three to give Utah a 27-14 advantage with 31 seconds left in the quarter.

Bulldogs, Utes Second Quarter

Ines Vieira lobbed one up to get the second quarter going, extending Utah’s lead, 29-14. Gianna Kneepkens got in on the action with a three-pointer to put Utah ahead 32-14 before the Bulldogs called a timeout with 8:29 left in the half.

Gardner-Webb got hot going on a 7-0 run in just under two minutes before Pili put two in the bucket making it a 34-21 game with 5:43 on the clock.

Pili hit three off the glass putting Utah up 42-29 with about three left in the half to play. Issy Palmer put down three with under two to play extending Utah’s lead, 45-29. The half ended with Dasia Young heading to line line and draining two, giving the Utes the 49-34 advantage going into the break.

Gardner-Webb, Utah Third Quarter

The second half continued as strongly as the first half started with both teams moving quickly. The Bulldogs tried their best to cut Utah’s lead, but for every advance Gardner-Webb made, it felt like the Utes were able to answer back. By the 5:40 mark in the third quarter the score sat at 58-47 in favor of Utah.

Kennady McQueen sank a three with under four to play in the third quarter advancing the Utes 65-50. Pili pushed her way to the bucket, adding another two to Utah’s score, 67-52. At the end of the third quarter the Utes had a comfortable 76-61 lead over the Bulldogs with a quarter left to play.

Bulldogs, Utes Final Quarter

Johnson started the final quarter getting points off an assist from Rees before Kneepkens added her own two on the return to put Utah up, 80-61. White hit a three with 7:17 on the clock advancing Utah, 85-65. Kneepkens added her own three-pointer after White threw the assist, putting Utah up by 20 on the Bulldogs, 88-68.

Utah continued to build their lead with just under five minutes remaining in play, 94-71. White continued to be impressive down the stretch hitting a shot off the glass and earning a trip to the line, extending the Utes’ lead, 96-71 at about the four-minute mark.

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 Puts Away Gardner-Webb, Advances To Second Round Of NCCA Tournament