When we are locked in, we’re really pretty good. When we’re not, we’re really pretty average. —Lynne Roberts
SALT LAKE CITY — A 20-point win might satisfy some coaches.
But Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts is after something more important than another victory.
“I’m ticked off about that fourth quarter,” the coach said after Utah improved to 6-1 with an 89-65 win over Pepperdine Tuesday night at the Huntsman Center. “I’m pleased that we got a win. I thought we did a really nice job for three quarters, and then we just lost our intensity. They shot 17 free throws in the fourth quarter.”
In fact, after leading the entire game, most of that by double digits, Utah was outscored 24-19 in the fourth quarter.
Roberts isn’t just nit-picking her team’s performance.
“(It’s indicative of) a team that needs to mature, and I don’t mean like as human beings,” Roberts said. “I mean, take the next step in being great. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or what the score is, you do what you do.”
Utah’s speed was on display most of the game, but the fouls in the fourth quarter brought the game to a grinding halt.
“It was like, ‘OK, we know we’re going to win,’” she said. “So we took our foot off the focus pedal. We started fouling, making plays we hadn’t (been making), trying to do too much, trying to look good making a home run pass or going for a steal and getting a blocking foul. We haven’t done that the whole time.”
In fact, Utah won nearly every statistical battle — rebounds (26-22), assists (14-8), steals (12-8) and fewer turnovers (19-12). Pepperdine shot more free throws (25-20) and had more blocked shots (5-3).
Utah was led by junior forward Megan Huff, who scored 16 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and earned four steals. Emily Potter added 15 points and four rebounds, while Tori Williams scored 12, and Daneesha Provo had another impressive night off the bench with 13 points and five rebounds.
For Pepperdine, it was the reserves that carried the team offensively, as Sydney Bordonaro, Monique Andriuolo and Rose Pflug all scored 10 points each in the loss.
Both Roberts and her point guard Erica Bean, who scored eight points and earned five assists, said the team is learning to value that commitment to focus at all times.
“You have to learn what it takes to have consistent focus and intensity,” Roberts said. “It’s such cliché and coach-speak, but it’s the truth. When we are locked in, we’re really pretty good. When we’re not, we’re really pretty average.”
Bean said that she and the starters hold a special leadership role in helping the team commit to that focused intensity.
“It starts with us obviously,” she said. “So I think making sure that we dial in on our execution that will trickle down through the other players. I think honing in on my leadership, being more vocal and assertive in that.”
Bean, who is quickly becoming one of the conference’s leaders in assists, said she’s worked hard to be a more vocal leader for the Utes, who take on their rivals, BYU, next Saturday in Provo.
The team will try to learn from Tuesday’s lapse, and Roberts said she has no doubt the team will get to a point where this is the expectation.
“For us to win games in the Pac-12, we’ve got to be good for 40 minutes,” Roberts said. “You can’t be good for 31. So, I’m pleased with how we defended and rebounded and took care of the ball for three quarters. And I want to get to a point where we do that for four quarters, regardless of outcome.”