Gianna Kneepkens scores 21 to lead No. 17 Utah women past Alabama

The Utes improved to 5-0 on the season under coach Lynne Roberts.

(Tyler Tate | AP) Utah Utes guard Gianna Kneepkens (5) during an NCAA basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Nassau, Bahamas • Gianna Kneepkens scored 21 points, Alissa Pili added 18 points and Jenna Johnson had 17 to help No. 17 Utah beat Alabama 93-86 on Monday.

Utah (5-0) moved up eight spots in The AP Top 25 poll after setting a school record for points in a 124-78 victory over then-No. 16 Oklahoma last week. Its the highest the Utes have been ranked since the 2018-19 season.

“This was a really good win for us against a very good Alabama team,” Utes coach Lynne Roberts said. “We got tested today and answered the bell. Once we settled down and took better care of the ball, we were ourselves.”

Isabel Palmer had 12 points and six assists off the bench for Utah, which shot 59% from the field and made 27 of 28 free throws.

Pili scored 12 points, on 5-of-6 shooting, in the first half to keep Utah within 52-48. Palmer sank a shot from beyond midcourt at the third-quarter buzzer to give Utah a 75-68 lead and the Utes led by at least five points throughout the fourth quarter.

“In the second half, we were much better defensively,” Roberts said. “Overall, just a great win for our program. I have so much respect for Alabama’s program. Happy to get the win today.”

Brittany Davis scored 23 points and Aaliyah Nye added 17 for Alabama (2-2). Kennady McQueen and Megan Abrams each scored 15.

The Pink Flamingo Championship continues Wednesday, with Utah playing Mississippi and Alabama facing Wake Forest.