Freshmen duo rally Utah past Cal 66-60 in Pac-12 tournament

Mar 2, 2022, 9:00 AM | Updated: 11:06 pm
California's Jayda Curry (30) drives between Utah's Jenna Johnson (22) and Kelsey Rees (53) during ...

California's Jayda Curry (30) drives between Utah's Jenna Johnson (22) and Kelsey Rees (53) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Pac-12 women's tournament Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

(AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gianna Kneepkens tossed in 20 points, Jenna Johnson scored 18 and Utah held off upset-minded California 66-60 in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday night.

Kneepkens, who was just named the conference’s top freshman and an All-Pac-12 selection, sank 9 of 13 shots and added five rebounds for the sixth-seeded Utes (18-10). Johnson, who joined Kneepkens on the all-freshman team, hit 7 of 12 attempt. Kennedy McQueen scored 11.

Johnson had 11 points by halftime to help Utah take a 31-26 lead.

Evelien Lutje Schipholt made two free throws and Jayda Curry added a basket as Cal scored the final four points of the third period to take a 45-44 lead. Kneepkens scored 10 of the Utes’ 13 points in the quarter.

Dasia Young opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, Kneepkens had a layup and McQueen buried a 3 as Utah used an 8-2 run to grab a 52-47 lead with 7:26 remaining.

The Golden Bears battled back to knot the score at 56 on a basket by Dalayah Daniels with 3:33 left, but Johnson scored six straight points to put Utah up 62-56 with 1:45 to go. Cal closed within 62-60, but Kneepkens answered with a layup and McQueen added two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to wrap up the win.

Curry, who was also named to the all-freshman team, had 16 points and seven rebounds for 11th-seed Cal (11-13). Ugonne Onyiah finished with 14 points and eight boards, while Lutje Schipholt scored 11.

Utah advances to play No. 3 seed Washington State on Thursday.

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More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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