No. 17 Women's Basketball Earns Fifth Win of the Season
NASSAU, The Bahamas – The University of Utah women's basketball team earned a hard-fought win to open the Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championships as Utah defeated Alabama, 93-86, on Monday. This is the fifth time Utah has scored 80 or more points this season.
The Utes had four players score in double figures, led by Gianna Kneepkens, who had 21 points. Alissa Pili (18 points), Jenna Johnson (17 points), and Isabel Palmer (12 points) were the other double figures scorers for the Utes. Johnson led the team with five rebounds and Palmer with six assists. As a team, Utah shot 58.8 percent from the floor and made 27-of-28 free throws.
Alabama raced out to the first eight points of the game over the first 45 seconds before Utah's Alissa Pili made a layup for the Utes. Utah started to mount a comeback and had the lead down to two, 8-6 after Pili made a pair of free throws. The game would remain close, and over a minute late in the first quarter, Gianna Kneepkens made three straight three-pointers taking the lead down to two, 25-23. Utah would trail 31-23 after one quarter after they were held scoreless for the final 2:20 of the quarter.
The Crimson Tide built the lead to double-digits early in the second quarter before the Utes started its comeback. The Utes picked up the defense and held Alabama scoreless for five minutes and went on a 12-0 run, taking a one-point lead, 41-40. During the run, the Utes had four different players score. The game remained close, but the Utes trailed at halftime 52-48.
Coming out of the half, Utah's offense started clicking and a three by Kennady McQueen put the Utes down four, 59-55. The Utes continued to come back, and a layup by Johnson and a pair of free throws by Kneepkens tied the game at 61. The next few possessions, the game remained close, and an old fashion three-point play by Palmer put the Utes ahead 66-65. Following the play, the Utes took slowly grew the lead to seven. After Alabama hit a three, Palmer answered with a half-courter at the buzzer, putting Utah ahead 75-68 after three-quarters of play.
Utah stretched its lead to double-figures after four straight points by Kneepkens put the Utes ahead 81-70. The Crimson Tide slowly came back and had the Utes lead back to five, but they had an answer for each run they made. Kelsey Rees made a layup putting Utah back up by seven. Utah slowly got the lead back to nine, but Alabama slowly answered and again had the lead back to five. The Utes did not let the Crimson Tide get any closer than five, and Utah came away with a 93-86 victory for its fifth win of the season.
For the second straight game, Gianna Kneepkens scored 21 points. She was one of four players in double figures. Jenna Johnson led the team with five rebounds, while Isabel Palmer led the team with six assists.
TALKING ABOUT THE GAME: HEAD COACH LYNNE ROBERTS
"This was a really good win for us against a very good Alabama team. We got tested today and answered the bell. Once we settled down and took better care of the ball, we were ourselves. In the second half, we were much better defensively. Overall, just a great win for our program. I have so much respect for Alabama's program- happy to get the win today."
The Utes made 27 free throws in the game. Utah made 27-of-28 free throws in the game, shooting 96.4 percent. This is the most-free throws the Utes have made in a game since they made 30 last season against Gonzaga. This was only the third time in the Lynne Roberts era to make 27 or more free throws in a game.
Utah returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 23, when it takes on Ole Miss to close out the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championships. The Utes take on Ole Miss at 5 p.m. MT from the Bahamas. Tyson Ewing will have the call of the contest on ESPN700. Live Stats can be found at UtahUtes.com.
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