The Utah women's basketball team needs seniors Megan Huff and Daneesha Provo to play consistently well to have any chance of moving into the top half of the Pac-12 this season. The Utes also know those two will require some help.
That's why moments such as the fourth quarter of Saturday night's game vs. Utah Valley are vital signs of the Utes' progress, even as they coasted to a seventh straight victory to open the season. Thanks to another of Utah's bursts late in the third period, Huff and Provo just watched their teammates play the fourth quarter of an 85-47 win at the Huntsman Center.
Huff (20 points) and Provo (15) already had done their part to build a big lead. And then the other Utes outscored UVU 24-9 in the fourth quarter. It is only a slight exaggeration to say this team consists of seniors and freshmen. Huff is encouraged by what she's seeing from her younger teammates and, in Saturday's case, an older one.
Graduate transfer Sarah Porter, who had totaled only 17 points in Utah’s first six games, matched Huff’s 20. Porter made her first six 3-point shots, missed her seventh try and then added a layup.
The Utes' growth is “really fun,” Huff said, “and it's still early, that's the thing. We have a lot of season to go and a lot of players that are still kind of getting into the flow of things, and it's really fun to see them develop.”
That's true of Porter, adapting to another program after playing for Mississippi and UC Santa Barbara. She's known as a shooter, and that quality surfaced Saturday. Merely making two 3-pointers in the first half was a breakthrough, and then she added four more during a 14-point fourth quarter.
“It was fun to see Sarah get going; that's why we recruited her,” Ute coach Lynne Roberts said. “It just takes some time to get your sea legs, learning a new system.”
The Wolverines, who lost 77-51 to BYU on Thursday, were more competitive against Utah =until the middle of the third quarter. UVU (4-3) trailed 42-31 at halftime, with guard Sophia Jacobsson scoring nine of her 11 points in the first half.
Utah will host BYU next Saturday night.