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Coach Lynne Roberts' initial reaction to her team's first win of the year was an eye roll.
That will happen when the Utes (1-0) struggle to hit shots at the rim, foul too much and turn the ball over 17 times.
But, hey, results are results.
That was the takeaway from an often-ugly 74-64 win over Montana State, an opponent Utah last faced in the opening round of the WNIT last year and beat by 34 points. That game was not this game, but season openers rarely resemble postseason play, and that gave the unsatisfied Utes a bit of comfort in a game in which they didn't dominate, but still did what they had to do.
"At the end of the day, we're 1-0," junior Emily Potter said. "We're gonna be OK."
Throughout the afternoon, Utah struggled to pull away from its visitor, picked this preseason to win the Big Sky Conference.
The Bobcats ground it down into a physical game, with 10 blocks despite giving up a few inches in overall height and length. Utah also missed shots at the rim and turned the ball over 18 times.
Fouls helped make the game interesting: Potter notched a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double, but fouled out with only 24 minutes under her belt. Paige Crozon and Kiana Moore had four fouls before the end of the third quarter. Montana State made the most of its opportunities
But suffocating defense helped keep an edge: Utah held the Bobcats to 27 percent shooting with its superior size and by speeding them up. Utah also got 10 blocks and registered seven steals.
It helped that junior wing Malia Nawahine was aggressive early, with 19 points and six rebounds. The first Utah player to double digit scoring, she helped drive the offense when senior Paige Crozon (6 points) struggled with her shot and some foul trouble.
"She really creates so much on both ends of the floor," Roberts said. "She played well when we were kind of sputtering a little bit."
Montana State rarely led, but kept it close. Utah pulled away in the final quarter and led by as much as 16 points, but MSU pulled to within seven points in the final two minutes.
Tanaeya Boclair was the other Ute to score in double figures, adding 16 points.
Utah hits the road next, traveling to Fresno State for its second game of the year.
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R Utah holds Montana State to 27 percent shooting and only 20 field goals.
• Emily Potter leads Utah with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
• Malia Nawahine adds 19 points, Tanaeya Boclair scores 16.