Pili Leads Utah Women's Basketball Past Idaho, 88-63
SALT LAKE CITY – In her first game as a Ute, Alissa Pili scored a game-high 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting to lead the Utah women's basketball team past the University of Idaho, 88-63, on Monday night from the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The Utes shot 42 percent from the floor in the contest and had two players, Jenna Johnson (10 pts., 13 rebs.) and Teya Sidberry (12 pts., 10 rebs.), collected a double-double in the win. Utah had four players score in double figures in the contest. Utah outrebounded the Vandals by 29 rebounds and had 25 offensive rebounds in the game.
The Utes came out early, hitting two three-pointers as Gianna Kneepkens and Isabel Palmer hit threes to open the game. A few minutes later, Alissa Pili came off the bench and hit a three and then assisted on another basket, putting the Utes ahead 13-9. Utah stretched the lead to eight, 17-9 before the Vandals got hot from the outside. Idaho went seven-for-ten on threes in the first quarter and a three by Tianna Johnson tied the game at 21-21 with 2:42 left in the quarter. The teams traded hoops for the rest of the quarter, and after the first ten minutes of action, we were tied at 29.
Utah came out in the second quarter and locked down the Vandals as they were held scoreless over the quarter's first five minutes. During the stretch, the Utes went on a 9-0 run taking a 38-29 lead. Utah stretched the lead to 11 points after a Sidberry layup with three minutes to go in the first half. The lead was down to six before Utah stretched the lead to nine 47-38 at halftime.
Coming out of the half, the Utes stretched the lead to 14 points, 54-40, after a second-chance bucket by Johnson. Over the next three minutes, Utah continued to hold onto a double-figure lead, and with 4:41 left in the third quarter, a layup by Palmer put the Utes ahead by 15, 60-45. Utah held the double-digit lead for the remainder of the quarter and led 68-53 with ten minutes to play.
The lead grew to 20 points in the first minutes of the fourth quarter when Lani White hit a pair of free throws. Idaho slowly worked the way back and had the lead down to 14 points, 73-59, but Utah again grew the lead to 24, 84-60, after 11 straight points by Pili. Utah did not let the Vandals back in the game, and the Utes came away with an 88-63 victory on opening night.
Freshman Teya Sidberry and shining sophomore Jenna Johnson added a double-double to their name against Idaho as Sidberry finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. In comparison, Johnson scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Johnson also led the team in assists, totaling five.
TALKING ABOUT THE GAME: HEAD COACH LYNNE ROBERTS
"I am pleased we won, but we looked a little jittery. Defensively we came out and were a little sluggish and doing things we hadn't been doing, but that's first-game-type stuff. We didn't shoot well at all from three. For Gianna and Kennady to go 1-of-9 from three is so uncharacteristic. What we do have is post-play. If we aren't shooting well but we can score inside, we're still going to be dangerous. To go 4-of-23 [from three] and still have 88 points, that speaks a lot. We crushed them on the boards, which is great. That was a key. Idaho had seven threes in the first quarter, which it wasn't like we were surprised they were shooting them. That was the game plan to defend the three-point line, and it took us 10 minutes to get going there. Overall, we had a good second half; Alissa [Pili] was fantastic. When she gets going like that, there's not much you can do as the opposing team, and it's nice to be on this side of the fence this time. It was brutal when she wasn't wearing the Utah red. Jenna was great today and was active and she had a double-double. This was a great first win, and we'll learn from it and clean things up, but we got a convincing win, and that's a good day."
Alissa Pili opened up her Utah career on Monday by scoring 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting against the Idaho Vandals. Not only did Pili contribute on the scoreboard, but she grabbed seven rebounds while doing so. Since the 1999-00 season, Pili's 27 points are the sixth most for Pac-12 newcomers in their debut.
Utah returns to action on Friday when they host Utah Valley at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m. The game will be aired on ESPN700 with Tyson Ewing and Milee Enger calling the shots, or you can find it on the Utah live stream. Live Stats can be found at UtahUtes.com.
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