The celebrations were already in gear.
Senior forward Emily Potter was ready to put on her 3-point goggles.
Ditto for senior guard Tilar Clark.
When freshman guard Tori Williams let loose her final 3-point attempt of the night, the Utah bench was prepped. And it was there, on cue, that Williams splashed her sixth 3-point shot, sending the Utes bench into a frenzy. Players held three fingers in the air while Potter, Clark and others put their imitated goggles over their eyes.
Utah coach Lynne Roberts even cracked a smile.
There was no reason not to. The freshman just hit her sixth 3-pointer of the fourth quarter.
The worst 3-point shooting team in the Pac-12 Conference last year burned the nets inside the Huntsman Center on Friday evening as the Utes rolled 87-61 over Nevada in the 2017 season opener.
In Game 1, Utah superseded its season high in 3-point makes from a year ago (12) in the win over the Wolf Pack, draining 13 3-pointers.
Utah had four players in double figures against Nevada, paced by the steadiness of Potter (17 points, 16 rebounds) and junior forward Megan Huff (16 points, seven rebounds). It was the bench, though, that lit the spark. And it was a true freshman in Williams (18 points) and junior Daneesha Provo (14 points) that lit it up from behind the arc and combined for 10 3-pointers.
“It’s huge,” Roberts said of the scoring punch off the bench. “We haven’t had that since we’ve been here.”
Following a sloppy first quarter, it was the hot hand of Provo that helped the Utes pull away from the Wolf Pack. A late 3-pointer by Provo upped Utah’s lead to 36-26 heading into halftime. Utah’s defense held Nevada without a field goal for the last six minutes and six seconds.
“We needed that,” Roberts said of Provo’s first-half shooting. “We could not hit a 3.”
The second half was a different story.
Potter, Huff and Provo pushed the Utes lead to 20 points. Utah closed the third quarter on a 17-4 run, capped off, yet again, by a Provo 3-pointer.
The fourth quarter was all Williams.
The true freshman hit six 3s in six minutes.
“I think Tori is capable of shooting that way every night,” Roberts said. “I think she’s probably our most confident shooter. So to see her go 6 of 9, it’s not going to be the last time we see that. I can guarantee that. But she’s not going to go 6 of 9 every night. I’d love it, but probably not.”
Williams said she fed off the third-quarter run.
“That’s what gets me going is my team being hyped,” she said. “And that just made me more confident to shoot the ball.”
In her first game at Utah, the 5-foot-9 guard from Boise, Idaho, immediately eclipsed last year’s individual season high of 3-point makes with her six 3-pointers. Williams found a groove in the fourth quarter and kept it going to the very last 3-pointer made with 1:09 left in the blowout victory.
“She makes the game easy,” Roberts said. “I don’t know how else to describe it. She makes easy plays look easy and then she makes difficult plays look easy. I think some players just have that gift.”