SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Alissa Pili returned from a sprained ankle to score 26 points in leading #8 Utah to a 101-76 victory over California Thursday at the Huntsman Center.
That sets up a showdown against #3 Stanford with a chance to share the Pac-12 title Saturday at noon.
Utah (24-3, 14-3 Pac-12) got 21 points from Jenna Johnson, while Dasia Young, Kennady McQueen and Izzy Palmer scored nine points apiece. Palmer and McQueen also each added five assists.
Pili played just 23 minutes, but made 9 of 14 shots after missing one game with an ankle injury. Johnson sank 10-of-14 shots from the field to finish with a season-high 21 points.
“We played three really good quarters, the second quarter was a little shaky,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “We took our foot off the gas a little bit and we just can’t do that. The thing I’m most proud of is the balance coming into the game. I wanted our bench to contribute and play a big role and they were huge today. It was a good balanced team win.”
After racing out to a 22-13 first quarter lead, Cal stormed back to score 30 points in the second quarter and only trailed by six at the half, 49-33.
But the Utah defense tightened up after that, surrendering just 33 second half points, pulling away for the 25-point victory.
The Utes never trailed in the game, and out-rebounded the Bears, 39-24.
This marks the fourth time this season Utah has eclipsed the 100-point mark, the second time in Pac-12 play. Utah improves to 14-0 at home this season.
Jayda Curry paced the Bears (13-15, 4-13) with 28 points and Kemery Martin, a transfer from Utah, contributed 15.
Utah lost to Stanford 74-62 in Palo Alto last month. The Cardinal are coming off a 73-62 double-overtime win over #21 Colorado. If Utah beats Stanford, both teams would finish with 15-3 marks in the Pac-12.
“We are 14-3 in the Pac-12 and to win 14 games in this league is a big deal and the players deserve all the credit,” Roberts said. “We have a chance to play for a championship, to share it with Stanford on Saturday and we’re excited about that. These guys have worked so hard and they’ve kept their eyes in front of them and stayed focused on one game at a time. That’s hard to do in February. Proud of our team, 24-3 we should be confident heading into Saturday.”