No. 11 Utah started off a two-game East Coast road trip with a 74-48 win over previously unbeaten Saint Joseph’s at Hagen Arena in Philadelphia on Thursday evening.

The biggest factor

The Utes relied on star forward Alissa Pili to carry them in the win.

Pili scored a season-high 31 points while adding seven rebounds, three assists, one block and a steal for Utah.

She scored 14 consecutive points for Utah in the fourth quarter for Utah — her personal 12-0 run that included two 3-pointers and a pair of and-1s pushed a 10-point Utah lead to 22 — as the Utes outscored Saint Joseph’s 23-8 in the final period.

That is her fifth straight game with 20-plus points and the 31 points was just two off her career high of 33, set against Gardner-Webb in the NCAA Tournament last season.

Pili shot 12 of 17 from the floor and 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

“Alissa is a good option for me to have,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said during a postgame interview on ESPN 700.

Other key takeaways

Stars of the night: In addition to Pili, Kennady McQueen also scored in double-figures, adding 11 points while making a pair of 3-pointers and adding three rebounds and two assists.

Inês Vieira had a team-high eight assists and three steals while adding six points and four rebounds.

Talya Brugler scored 16 points and had two assists, one rebound and one steal for Saint Joseph’s, while Chloe Welsh added nine points and seven rebounds.

Where Utah turned without Gianna Kneepkens: In Utah’s first game without junior guard Gianna Kneepkens, who suffered a season-ending foot injury last Saturday against BYU, forward Dasia Young replaced her in the starting lineup.

Young got two early fouls and played 19 minutes while putting up two points and four rebounds.

Wisconsin Maty Wilke helped add a scoring punch off the bench, shooting 3 of 6 for 9 points, including a 3-pointer late in the third quarter that pushed the Utes’ lead back to double-digits at 51-40.

“She played more to her potential. She’s a great defender, shot when she was open, looked to attack,” Roberts said of Wilke. “That’s what we need from her. We need her to be fearless and not afraid of making mistakes and I thought she did a good job with that.”

Points off turnovers: While Utah finished with 15 turnovers to 17 for the Hawks, the Utes held a 21-7 edge in points off turnovers.

Rebounding: Utah had a 41-31 rebounding advantage, though Saint Joseph’s held a 7-4 edge on second-chance points even with the Utes’ 9-8 lead in offensive rebounds.

Utes weather Saint Joseph’s runs: The Utes pushed out to a 22-6 lead after one quarter, thanks to Utah shooting 50% and the Hawks just 16.7% in the first period.

Saint Joseph’s eventually fought its way back into the contest for awhile, though, using a 11-2 run in the second quarter and an 8-0 spurt in the third quarter to briefly make it a six-point game.

“We’re learning. We don’t have Kneepkens, so it’s like, where are we going to get our plays from,” Roberts said.

3-point shooting: The Utes built that early lead on the back of their 3-point shooting, as they made 5 of 10 in the first quarter. Utah hit just one over the next two quarters, though, before Pili added two in the fourth.

The Utes made 8 of 24 in the game, compared to 4 of 15 for Saint Joseph’s.


What’s next?

Utah (8-1) will stay out east for a matchup against No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday.

The Utes and Gamecocks will play as part of the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase, a tripleheader that includes Florida State facing UCLA and UConn taking on North Carolina.

Utah and South Carolina will play in the second game of the day at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Tip time is at 12:30 p.m. MST, and the game will be televised on ESPN.

The Gamecocks (8-0) have three wins over top 25 opponents this year, including Notre Dame, Maryland and North Carolina.