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HomeSportCollege Hoops: Anchorage's Alissa Pili delivers 37-point statement against sixth-ranked USC to...

College Hoops: Anchorage’s Alissa Pili delivers 37-point statement against sixth-ranked USC to put to bed debate of Pac-12’s top player

Alissa Pili

Don’t question Alissa Pili.

When challenged, the women’s college basketball star from Anchorage always rises to the occasion.

It happened in last year’s NCAA Tournament and earlier this season against top-ranked South Carolina, and then again Friday night against USC and fab freshman JuJu Watkins.

With whispers of Watkins unseating Pili as the top player in the Pac-12 Conference, the Alaskan delivered a statement 37-point performance against her former team to lead No. 20 Utah over No. 6 USC 78-58 in Salt Lake City.

The All-American forward hit 13-of-16 field goals, including five of six 3-pointers. She added 6-of-8 free throws, six rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Meanwhile, Watkins finished with 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting. She has won a record nine Pac-12 Freshman of the Week awards and leads the conference in scoring at 26.5 points.

Pili – the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year – is second at 22.7 points per game.

And even though this wasn’t a one-on-one matchup between Pili and Watkins, you know there is always a game within the game, especially when elite players face off.

Pili matched her career high of 37 points, set earlier this season against South Carolina when people were saying she wasn’t a projected first-round WNBA draft pick.

Last year, in her first NCAA Tournament, she scored 33 points in the first round, 28 points in the second round and then had 14 points before fouling out against eventual national champion LSU in the Sweet 16.

Pili, of Dimond High fame, has always been a trailblazer. In Anchorage, she was the first four-time Cook Inlet Conference Player of the Year. Normally, freshmen aren’t even considered but Pili was impossible to ignore.

Today, it’s the same as it ever was.

Friday night, Pili produced her fourth game with a field goal percentage of .800 or better, which is why she’s third in the Pac-12 and tenth in the country with a .633 FG%.

Pili now has 35 3-pointers on the season, the same number she recorded in three seasons at USC. She needs one more 3 to reach 100 for her career.

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