I think Tori is capable of shooting that way every night. I think she’s probably our most confident shooter. —Utah head coach Lynne Roberts on freshman Tori Williams
SALT LAKE CITY — Scoreless through three quarters, Utah’s Tori Williams turned her University of Utah debut into a memorable outing.
With the Utes leading 62-43 with 7:07 remaining, Williams, the 5-foot-9 freshman from Boise Idaho connected on a deep three. On the Utes next possession, Williams hit again, and then again. Having started the game 0-3, Williams hit six consecutive 3-pointers and scored 18 of the Utes last 19 points as the Utes rolled to an 87-61 season-opening win over Nevada.
After the last of her six threes, the Utah bench exploded in appreciation for the Utah freshman's efforts.
“That’s what gets me going is my team being hyped,” she said. “And that just made me more confident to shoot the ball.”
A year ago Utah made just 12 3-pointers for the entire season. On opening night, coach Lynne Roberts crew knocked down 13, on 46 percent shooting from behind the arc.
“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.”
Utah senior, Emily Potter contributed a double-double, 17 points and 16 rebounds. Starter Megan Huff added 16 and Clemson transfer Daneesha Provo contributed 14 off the bench in her first game in a Utah uniform.
Potter, the 6-foot-6 forward got the Utes rolling early scoring off an inbounds pass, putting back an offensive rebound, hitting a free-throw and converting a 3-point play as the Utes led 19-16 after a quarter.
Kiana Moore notched a bucket to open the second quarter but Nevada, who knocked down their first four 3-pointers, closed the gap to 21-18 on a Halie Bergman three.
Potter, showing some added variety to her game knocked down an 18-footer, put back another offensive rebound as the Utes led 36-26. By halftime, Potter was well on her way to a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
“Potter is Potter,” Williams said of her teammate. “She’s a great post and if she’s not controlling the middle she’s looking for open teammates.”
Or playing defense.
Having drawn an offensive foul on a Nevada player at the 6-minute mark of the third, Potter let out a whoop as her teammates helped her off the floor.
That defensive spark turned into offensive production and this time it was Megan Huff’s turn to carry the offense.
Huff knocked down a 10-footer, posted up for a basket and hit back-to-back threes for a 12-point barrage that upped the lead to 57-34.
“We play our best basketball when we’re playing hard on both ends,” Roberts said. “I thought we let them get loose for some open threes early but we got better defensively in the second half.”
While the Utah starters contributed 42 points, it was the bench, led by Provo’s 14 that caught the attention of their coach.
“It’s huge,” Roberts said of the scoring punch off the bench. “We haven’t had that since we’ve been here.”
Utah (1-0) is at Alabama on Monday.