When Utah senior forward Emily Potter blocked Megan McKay’s shot with 4:55 left in the first half, it put Potter alone in the program’s record book and it also signified a change in the tone of the game.
The Utes overcame a lethargic first quarter to earn their fifth consecutive win with a 74-63 victory over Saint Mary’s in the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Saturday afternoon. Utes junior wing Daneesha Provo scored 17 points, while Potter scored 15 and Tori Williams added 14 points and five steals. Erika Bean dished out a game-high 11 assists.
“They’re a really good team,” Utes coach Lynne Roberts said. “They really are. They’re going make a run at West Coast Conference. I think they’re going to win a lot of games. This will be a really good win for us. I don’t think either team really played their best today, but I thought both teams played really really hard.”
Potter moved into sole possession of first place on the program’s all-time blocks list with her second-quarter blocked shot. She came into the day tied for first place with Lauren Beckman, who blocked 225 shots from 1998-2002.
“At the beginning of the season I knew that I was close, but I mean it hasn’t really been on the forefront of my mind to try and go and get those blocks,” Potter said. “I’m trying to stay out of foul trouble. Trying to stay out of foul trouble, so that kind of limits me coming out and aggressively blocking at the beginning of the game, but as the game settles in if I find opportunities I want to take them.”
The Gaels (5-2) came into the day scoring an average of 82.3 points per game and shooting 48 percent from the field. While the they shot 52 percent against the Utes, they also committed 27 turnovers.
McKay scored 14 of the Gaels’ 29 first-half points on 5-of-7 shooting. McKay scored just four points for the rest of the game after Potter swatted her shot in the second quarter.
The Utes shot just 29.4 percent from the floor in the first quarter, and they missed their first six 3-pointers as the Gaels packed the paint. Provo made the team’s first 3-pointer from the corner with 4:10 left in the first quarter and it served as a bit of a pressure release for a backed-up offense.
“It was just really clogged up in the paint because they wanted to make it harder for Potter to score, so after that happened I felt like it was just like a spark for the team,” Provo said. “It kind of opened the floor.”
Provo, who went 3 of 7 on 3-pointers in the game, and Potter sparked the Utes’ second-quarter surge that included going 9 of 18 from the field and building a 34-29 halftime lead.
That offensive success the Utes found in the second quarter carried over after halftime as they pushed their lead to as many as 15 points, 65-50, in the fourth quarter on a Williams runner with 5:37 remaining.