No. 11 Utah looks to recover from loss of 2nd leading scorer Gianna Kneepkens #Utah #recover #loss #2nd #leading #scorer #Gianna #Kneepkens

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Utah is still reeling from the loss of Gianna Kneepkens to a season-ending foot injury. The 11th-ranked Utes are trying to figure out how to adapt to the loss of the team’s second-leading scorer.

“It was an emotional blow. It’s obviously a blow to our team and how we play,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said. “It wasn’t just like, oh no, what does this mean on the court? But it was, you know, it was just challenging. I think the team has done a good job of coming together and playing a little bit harder for her.”

Roberts said that Kneepkens, who injured the foot against BYU on Dec. 5, had successful surgery last Thursday and that the guard has been “blowing up the team’s phones.”

“She wants to be here so badly, she’s such a competitor,” Roberts said of playing in Connecticut against South Carolina. “I think it gives us just a little more emphasis to player hard for her.”

Star forward Alissa Pili has raised her level of play lately, averaging 34 points while shooting 67.5% from the field and 60% from behind the 3-point line in the two games last week. Pili scored 37 points in a loss to No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday.

“I think a big part of my game is just being able to move the way I can at my size,” the 6-foot-2 Pili said. “I know I’m a undersized post, but, you know, just being agile. And then also my strength using my body to my advantage. I think that’s kind of what makes me unique. And then, you know, like everybody said, I got sticky hands. So, you know, I catch everything.”

Utah has two more non-conference games against Southern Utah and Weber State before opening up Pac-12 play against No. 8 Colorado on Dec. 30.


Most of teams across the country are on exam break over the next week. There are only two matchups between ranked opponents with No. 19 Marquette playing 20th-ranked Creighton and No. 10 Baylor facing 24th-ranked Miami.


Notre Dame will unveil a statue of Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw before the Irish face Purdue on Sunday. McGraw built the Irish’s into a national powerhouse, winning two NCAA championships (2001, 2018) and making six Final Four appearances. She went 848-252 in 33 seasons as the Irish head coach before she retired in 2020.


LSU coach Kim Mulkey told reporters that Kateri Poole was “no longer with the team” after she wasn’t on the bench during the Tigers’ win over Louisiana on Sunday.

Poole had appeared in four games for the seventh-ranked Tiger this season, but hadn’t been on the bench since the Texas Southern game on Nov. 20. Her last appearance was three days earlier when she played five minutes in a win over Southeastern Louisiana.


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#Utah #recover #loss #2nd #leading #scorer #Gianna #Kneepkens

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