Alissa Pili leads Utah in a variety of ways to first-round NCAA Tournament victory

SALT LAKE CITY – The Gardner-Webb women’s basketball team expected to get a big dose of Utah’s Alissa Pili in their first-round NCAA Tournament game Friday evening.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs got that alright, but also so much more.

Pili scored a career-high 33 points and led a spirited effort by several of her teammates as the Utes rolled to a 103-77 win in front of 7,190 boisterous fans at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Two weeks after Utah went missing in action in the Pac-12 Tournament, the Utes had one of their most crisp offensive efforts against the Big South Conference champions, who came in with school-record 29-4 record and a 21-game winning streak.

The Bulldogs couldn’t stop Pili, who was the Pac-12’s Player of the Year this season and a second team All-American.

The 6-foot-2 junior made made 12 of 17 shots and 9 of 11 free throws, and she seemed to be at her best whenever Utah needed a basket.

But what made Pili more valuable was she added eight assists, part of an impressive group of players who combined for 32 assists on 37 baskets.

1 of 16 of 2 of 16 of 3 of 16 of 4 of 16 of 5 of 16 of 6 of 16 of 7 of 16 of 8 of 16 of 9 of 16 of 10 of 16 of 11 of 16 of 12 of 16 of 13 of 16 of 14 of 16 of 15 of 16 of 16 of 16 of

“That’s remarkable, and that’s a sign of an unselfish team,” said Utah coach Lynne Roberts, whose team moved past the first round for the second straight season and has high hopes to go further after improving its record to 26-4.

“I’m proud of our team.