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HomeSportsPili, second-seeded Utah dominate Gardner-Webb at March Madness

Pili, second-seeded Utah dominate Gardner-Webb at March Madness

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Alyssa Pilley had 33 points, eight rebounds and eight assists Friday night to help second-seeded Utah beat 15th-seeded Gardner-Webb 103-77 in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament.

Jenna Johnson added 20 points and five assists for the Utes (26-4). Pilley and Johnson combined to make 22 of 31 shots as the Bulldogs struggled to prevent the duo from consistently attacking the basket.

The Utes advanced to Greenville to play the North Carolina State–Princeton winner in the 2nd Region.

Gardner-Webb’s (29-5) 21-game winning streak was snapped and the Power fell to 0-3 against 5 opponents on the season. Jessica Williams scored 20 points for the Bulldogs.

Utah used a 14–0 run early in the second quarter to lead 32–14. The Utes forced four turnovers in the final 3½ minutes of the first quarter, their game-breaking run, and held Gardner-Webb scoreless for 4½ minutes.

The Bulldogs cut Utah’s lead to 58–50 in the third quarter on Kiari Cain’s 3-pointer. This is the only time in the second half that the margin has dipped below double digits. Pilley nailed a string of three straight baskets with the layup, which extended the Utes’ lead to 65–50.

Gianna Kneepkens chipped in 17 points and nine rebounds for Utah. The Utes shot 59% from the floor and had 32 assists on 37 baskets.

Alicia Smith added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs and fouled out in the final minute of the third quarter. Cain had 14 points and six assists.

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Early foul trouble stifled the Bulldogs’ ability to play offensive defense and put them in a deep hole before the end of the first quarter. Gardner-Webb committed eight team fouls within the first six minutes of the game.

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Gardner-Webb: Williams brought her career total to 2,049 points, passing Dina Smith for second place in program history. She came into the NCAA tournament averaging a team-high 19.8 points per game.

Utah: The Utes dominated around the basket from the opening tip. Utah blocked the lane on defense and attacked the paint nonstop on offense. The Utes outshot Gardner-Webb 44–30 and outgained the Bulldogs 60–26 in the paint.


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