After a sluggish start, the University of Utah Women’s Basketball team found its stride and it continued its success against Saint Mary’s on Saturday afternoon in the Huntsman Center winning by a score of 74-63.
“Offensively, we sputtered a little bit at times,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “But once again, we can hang our hat on our defense.”
Despite the Utes shooting 29 percent from the field and allowing Saint Mary’s to shoot 75 percent from the field, they found themselves down by only two points at the end of the first quarter. It wasn’t an ideal start for Utah, but its defense kept the team in the game as it forced the Gaels to turn the ball over eight times in the first quarter alone.
In the second quarter, the Gaels lead for the first five minutes, until a pair of 3-pointers from Danneesha Provo and Tori Williams gave the Utes the lead. Utah added to its lead throughout the remainder of the game.
Halfway through the quarter, Emily Potter recorded her 226th career block, making her the all-time leader in the program’s history.
A fierce defender on the block, Potter said she has shifted her focus this year to staying out of foul trouble early in games and then looking for opportunities to block more shots as the game goes on.
At the half, Roberts urged her team to pick up its play, and Utah did exactly that.
“I told them at halftime that we weren’t really playing to our potential,” Roberts said. “We weren’t really getting after it.”
Utah came out firing in the third quarter with Williams knocking down a 3-pointer in the first 30 seconds on an assist from Erika Bean.
Tilar Clark closed out the third quarter strong for the Utes with three steals in the final two minutes. Between her and Williams, the two of them tallied five steals a piece.
The Utes instilled a full court press periodically throughout the game, which led to a handful of Saint Mary’s turnovers and Utah layups. Coming off the bench, Provo provided a spark of energy as she led all scorers with 17 points.
“Being locked in on defense is what really gets me going and gets us going as a team,” Provo said.
Roberts said their goal going into the game was to force the Gaels into 20 or more turnovers and to hold them to less than 20 attempted free throws. The Utes were able to do that as they pushed their winning streak to five games in a row.
The Utes will be in action on Tuesday, Dec. 5 as they host the Pepperdine Waves at 6 p.m.