LAS VEGAS ( Associated Press) — Gianna Kneepkens scored 24 points and Utah hit 16 of 20 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off No. 2 seed Oregon, 80-73 in the Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinal Friday night.
The Utes advance to face top-seeded Stanford, a 71-45 winner over Colorado, in the Saturday’s championship game. It will be Utah’s first appearance in the title game in program history.
Utah took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, 55-45, but Oregon rallied and took the lead, 66-65 after Nyara Sabally hit two free throws and followed them with a layup with just under four minutes to play. But on the ensuing play Sabally collected her fifth foul contesting a 3-point attempt by Kennady McQueen. Coach Kelly Graves received a technical foul and McQueen knocked down four free throws to give the Utes a 69-66 lead they never relinquished. Kneepkens added a layup, then sandwiched four free throws around a Te-Hina Paopao layup to five Utah a 76-68 lead with 47 seconds to go.
Utah (20-10) converted 16 of20 free throws in the fourth quarter and was 23 of 28 in the game.
Kneepkens finished with 24 points and was 9 of 10 from the line. Kelsey Rees scored 14 points and Jenna Johnson and McQueen each added 13 points. McQueen led the Utes with 10 rebounds and Rees pulled down 8.
Paopao finished with 17 points to lead the Ducks (20-11). E Rogers scored 15 points and Sedona Prince and Sabally each added 12. Sabally pulled down 12 rebounds.
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