All-American Alissa Pili of Anchorage went from spectator to spectacular in Utah’s top-25 matchup with Baylor in Waco, Texas.
After two fouls in the opening two minutes forced her to the bench for the rest of the first half, Pili came out firing in the second half and scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting but couldn’t save the fourth-ranked Utes in an 84-77 loss to the No. 21 Bears in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
Pili pumped in 22 of her team’s 31 points at one point and could not be stopped one-on-one. The 6-foot-2 forward routinely powered her way to the rim and scored with a variety of shots in the post and off the dribble.
The Alaskan put in work against a proven frontcourt defenders, most notably former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Dre’una Edwards and former All-SEC selection Aijha Blackwell.
But they were powerless against Pili.
She was in attack mode after getting back on the court in the third quarter, earning two free throws and converting a layup to pull Utah within 44-41.
Moments later, she got knocked down after a collision while setting a screen and got up to drill a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The collision left Baylor’s 5-foot-7 Jade Walker visibly dazed, prompting the referees to check the monitor to see if Pili should be issued a flagrant foul, but replays confirmed it was a clean pick.
“No call was the right call,” said the ESPN broadcaster. “Not every collision has to be a foul. It was a good screen.”
Pili’s most memorable bucket came on an over-the-shoulder layup after she looked to be trapped under the rim, showcasing fabulous footwork and a scorer’s touch.
— Utah Women’s Basketball (@UTAHWBB) November 15, 2023
The reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year stayed in attack mode in the fourth quarter, scoring back-to-back baskets to get Utah as close as 68-64.
Pili, of Dimond High fame, passed the 1,500-point milestone in the game, moving into No. 9 on Alaska’s all-time college scoring list with 1,504. She needs 15 points to catch former Kansas State star Brit Jacobson (1,519) of Chugiak for the No. 8 spot. Then it’s on to No. 7 Deb Simmers (1,566) and No. 6 Andrea Lloyd (1,596).
Pili could pass them this weekend when Utah comes to Anchorage for the Great Alaska Shootout. Her first game will be Saturday night at 7:30 against the UAA Seawolves at the Alaska Airlines Center.