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Utah women’s basketball star getting X-rays after big win over BYU

The junior guard suffered a non-contact injury in an 87-68 win over the Utes’ in-state rival.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes guard Gianna Kneepkens (5) injures her foot as she is helped off the court by athletic trainer Christina Jones, left, and head coach Lynne Roberts during the end of game play against BYU in NCAA basketball at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

Utah women’s basketball star Gianna Kneepkens was injured and had to be helped back to the locker room in the final minutes of a blowout win over the BYU Cougars on Saturday night.

In an 87-68 win over an in-state rival, it will be the status of the junior guard that will mean most to the No. 12 Utes.

Kneepkens planted and attempted to drive toward the basket before falling to the floor. The Huntsman Center went quiet as head coach Lynne Roberts checked on one of her best players. Kneepkens had to be helped to the sideline with 1:39 remaining. She struggled to get seated on the bench before eventually being taken back to the locker room. She did not appear to be able to put weight on her right leg.

“It was a foot, ankle,” head coach Lynne Roberts said. “She just kind of rolled it. It scared her. So we will see.”

Kneepkens will get X-rays after the game.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes guard Gianna Kneepkens (5) collapses onto the team bench after being helped off the court after breaking multiple bones in her foot during the end of game play against BYU in NCAA basketball at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

Kneepkens was an All-Conference selection last season and just surpassed 1,000 points in her career in her last game. In 27 minutes Saturday, she had scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists in the win — not far off her season averages of 17 points, 5.4 boards and 5.2 assists.

“Obviously G is a huge part of our team,” Roberts said. “And that is a significant loss if that happens. But I believe in our team and our depth. That is why you have depth. Hopefully, we get Issy Palmer back soon. And, you know, we’ll be all right. That is part of sports, part of games, part of it. But lord willing she’s OK.”

The Utes (7-1) beat the Cougars (6-2) handily behind a game-high 23 points from forward Alissa Pili. Guard Kennady McQueen scored 18 points and point guard Ines Vieira finished the night with five points and 12 assists.

For BYU, Lauren Gustin had 17 points and 13 boards. Kailey Woolston, the back-to-back Big 12 freshman of the week, also scored 17 points.