What’s next for No. 3 Utah women’s basketball team?

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It’s been a historic season for the Utah women’s basketball team.

The Utes (25-3, 15-3) captured a share of their first Pac-12 regular-season championship and they’ve earned their best ranking ever — No. 3 in The Associated Press Poll — after knocking off Stanford 84-78 Sunday.

Utah leaped five spots after the victory over the Cardinal.

Now what can the Utes do in March? As the No. 2 seed, they tip off the Pac-12 tournament Thursday night against No. 7 Washington State.

The Pac-12 championship game will be played Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.

Tuesday, Utah junior forward Alissa Pili was named the conference’s Player of the Year and eighth-year coach Lynne Roberts received Coach of the Year honors.

It marks the first time since the Utes joined the league in 2011-12 that someone from Utah has won either award.

Pili and sophomore Gianna Kneepkens made the 16-member All-Pac-12 Team, while junior guard Kennady McQueen and sophomore forward Jenna Johnson made the honorable mention list.

In case you missed it

Former Utah quarterback and Utes assistant coach Brian Johnson will take over as the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator, the team announced Tuesday after ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, who cited league sources, reported earlier in the day.

Johnson has served as the team’s quarterbacks coach for the past two seasons.

Numbers game

4: Current losing streak for the Runnin’ Utes going into the regular-season finale at Colorado.

25: Career-high points scored by Utah guard Mike Saunders Jr. in a loss to No. 4 UCLA.

From the archives

Extra points

  • As Pac-12 scrambles to land a new media rights deal, the plot thickens (Deseret News)
  • How seldom-used backup Mike Saunders’ perseverance paid off in close loss to No. 4 UCLA (Deseret News)
  • How Utah’s version of ‘Stef’ discovered orange chicken — and a home for his basketball skills (Deseret News)
  • The overwhelming effect ‘super-shoes’ are having on track’s record book (Deseret News)
  • Who leaked that the Pac-12 was talking to Apple? And why that is important (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

We learned from this weekend that a good team can fill the lower bowl. Fans should stop obsessing about the curtains and hope Smith can recruit transformational player like the women’s team did.

— Tmwslv

The Huntsman Center truly was rocking today. It reminded me of the good ol’ days when the Utes always had a decided home court advantage. Great season by this great group of young ladies. Keep up the good work in the Pac-12 tourney.

— KimmyP

Harlan needs to reward Coach Robert$ for the steady leadership and vision she has provided to our Lady Utes bball program the last several years. She knows what she wants and how to recruit and inspire her players to play tough, execute their game plan, perform at the highest level. She should be on the interview committee for the men’s new bball coach.

— armchairQBonthehill

Sorry to all the boomers out there who can’t ditch their cable remote, but streaming is the now and the future. Let’s get that bag Utes! Can’t wait to have all the games on my TV without needing a ridiculous to find TV package. Streaming will help the Utes find so many existing fans in Ute Nation, plus find many new fans. America is having its eyes opened to see the best football (outside of Bama and Georgia, respectfully) is being played in Salt Lake City!!!

— UtesNat

Up next

March 2 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Washington State | @Las Vegas | Pac-12 Networks

March 3 | 1 p.m. | Softball | vs. St. Bonaventure | @Honolulu

March 3 | 3 p.m. | Softball | vs. Santa Clara | @Honolulu

March 3 | 7 p.m. | Gymnastics | vs. Arizona | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Insider

March 4 | 3:30 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Colorado | @Boulder, Colorado | Pac-12 Networks

March 4 | 5 p.m. | Softball | vs. Niagara | @Honolulu

March 4 | 7 p.m. | Softball | vs. Pacific | @Honolulu

Utah guard Mike Saunders Jr. shoots during game against UCLA at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. Saunders dropped a career-high 25 points on the No. 4-ranked Bruins, but the Utes fell short in the end.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

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