Alissa Pili scored 15 points and Gianna Kneepkens had 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead No. 7 Utah to a 73-59 win over Washington State on Sunday.
SALT LAKE CITY — SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Alissa Pili scored 15 points and Gianna Kneepkens had 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead No. 7 Utah to a 73-59 win over Washington State on Sunday.
Jenna Johnson added 14 points and seven boards for Utah, while Daisa Young had 13 points and Kennedy McQueen added 12 chips. Utah (22-2, 12-2 Pac-12) claimed its seventh straight Pac-12 win.
The Utes shot just 36% from the field in the second half but were able to use their defense to secure what Utah coach Lynne Roberts called a “hard-fought win,” adding, “We knew it was going to be like this would.”
Bella Murekatete led Washington State (16-9, 6-8) with 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Charlisse Leger-Walker added 17 points.
The Cougars, who shot 29% off the floor in the second half, lost their third straight win against an AP Top 25 opponent.
“I thought we guarded them pretty well,” said Washington State coach Kamie Ethridge. “I thought we did a lot of good things. We made some mistakes but we kept the score manageable. We just didn’t get enough points.”
Utah’s defensive pressure troubled Washington State in the first half, scoring 13 points from seven forced turnovers. Utah ended the second quarter on a 12-3 run that saw Pili and Young combine for four of five baskets.
The Utes held a 41-32 lead at halftime, which Washington State cut to 41-36 early in the third quarter with back-to-back layups by Murekatete and Leger-Walker.
But the Cougars never got any closer, and the Utes eventually built a 19-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, going up 68-49 after back-to-back baskets from Kneepkens and McQueen.
“They played a little harder than us and I don’t like losing,” said Kneepkens. “I just found ways to get the boards and then attack (the rim) too.”
A major key for Utah was preventing Washington State from eliminating offensive rebounds as the game progressed. The Cougars had six offensive boards in the first quarter, resulting in seven second chance points. Utah had a single offensive rebound before halftime.
Washington State ended the last three quarters with just six more offensive boards and a lone second chance point.
“I think I said (at halftime) if we end the game with two offensive rebounds, we’re going to lose for sure,” Roberts said. “We’re too good to just play like that and hope to win. And I thought we did a much better job in the second half.”
Washington State: The Cougars were strong on the glass against Utah but undercut their chance of creating an upset by struggling to groom the ball.
Utah: Relentless defense served the Utes well in a game where shots didn’t come as often as usual.
Washington State: host Oregon on Friday.
Utah: Visit Arizona on Friday.
https://www.king5.com/article/sports/ncaa/ncaaf/cougars/utah-beats-washington-state-for-7th-straight-pac-12-victory/281-9d816ec0-6663-47af-88dd-26286add3669 Utah beats Washington State for 7th straight Pac-12 victory