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3 keys to No. 22 Utah’s win over Arizona State in the Pac-12 tournament first round

Utah Utes guard Ines Vieira (2) shoots a layup during the college women’s basketball game between the Utah Utes and the Colorado Buffaloes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.

LAS VEGAS — For the better part of three quarters, No. 11 seed Arizona State was able to keep things close against No. 6 seed Utah in their first-round matchup in the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament late Thursday night.

The Utes, though, were the aggressor in the second half and eventually took control in pulling out a 71-60 victory at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

3 takeaways

Top performers: Ines Vieira shot 7 of 12 for 18 points, just two off her career high, and had five rebounds and three assists in sparking the Utah offense. Alissa Pili warmed up as the game wore on and scored a game-high 20 points to go with 11 rebounds and four assists, as the Utes had four players in double-figures.

Trayanna Crisp scored 19 points for Arizona State in the losing effort.

Key stretch: Arizona State trailed 51-45 late in the third quarter after Mallory Miller hit a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left in the period. Vieira changed the momentum quickly, though, after Pili rebounded an ASU miss and quickly found Vieira, who banked in a 50-foot 3-pointer at the quarter buzzer to put Utah up by nine going into the final period.

The Utes turned that spark into a 12-4 run, going ahead 63-49 with 7:02 to play, then held on from there.

Key stats: Utah made 13 of 14 free throws, while the Sun Devils were 10 of 15 from the free-throw line.

The Utes also controlled the boards, finishing with a 39-26 edge on the glass, and the paint, ending the night with a 40-26 advantage in points in the paint.

Utah had some early turnover troubles, with five in the first five minutes and seven in the first quarter. That helped Arizona State lead by as many as seven in the opening period. The Utes ended up with 17 turnovers — ASU turned those into 15 points — to 11 for the Sun Devils.

What’s next?

The No. 6 seed Utes (22-9) will face No. 3 seed UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals on Thursday (9:30 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network).

Utah and the Bruins, who had a first-round bye, split their two regular-season matchups. The Utes won in overtime over the then-No. 2 Bruins in Salt Lake City, while UCLA beat Utah by 30 in their rematch in Los Angeles.