(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)
After winning a conference tournament title, garnering a tournament MVP citation, collecting a league player of the year honor, earning a ninth NCAA tournament appearance and breaking into the nation’s top-25 ranking, BYU women’s basketball intends on taking that momentum and success to the next level in 2012-13.
The Cougars saw tremendous success in the 2011-12 campaign with one of its best seasons tallying a 26-7 record and tying for the most wins under head coach Jeff Judkins. The total wins marked the sixth 20-win season in 10 years.
With a 12-4 mark in BYU’s inaugural year in the West Coast Conference, the team plans to improve on that success after a second place finish in league play.
Returning starters Haley Steed, Kim Parker Beeston and Lexi Eaton will be the cornerstone of the team that returns 10 letterwinners. Steed was named the 2012 WCC tournament MVP, Beeston picked up two WCC Player of the Week citations and Eaton was the WCC Co-Newcomer of the Year and was named to the WCC All-Freshman Team. Among the letterwinners is junior center Jennifer Hamson who was third on the team in scoring, second in rebounding and led the team in blocks.
Also back for her third year is junior Stephanie Vermunt Seaborn who played in all games averaging 6.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Other experienced players that will strengthen the Cougar lineup are Stephanie Rovetti and Morgan Bailey, redshirts from the 2010-11 year. Two others who gained valuable experience as freshmen last year, Xojian Harry and Ashley Garfield, return for another season. Cougar fans will also see a familiar face on the court in 2012-13 in Keilani Moeaki Unga who last played for BYU in 2009-10. That year Unga averaged 4.4 points and 2.2 rebounds a game.
Four highly touted freshmen including two in-state standouts, begin their college careers this fall. Utahns Micaelee Orton and Makenzi Morrison will be joined by Kylie Maeda from Honolulu, and Kristine Fuller from Crystal Beach, Fla.
The Cougar team anticipates another grueling schedule, playing just two games at home in November while traveling to the northeast to take on Dartmouth, Boston College and Harvard on Nov. 13, 15 and 16, respectively. Two Pac-12 foes are also on tap that same month playing at Arizona on Nov. 20 and at Washington State on Nov. 24.
For the first time in recent history, BYU will play a game in Salt Lake City at EnergySolutions Arena hosting Creighton on Nov. 28.
The team then plays back-to-back games against in-state rivals, hosting Utah Sate on Dec. 4 and traveling to the Huntsman Center to play Utah on Dec. 8.
Four home games round out the nonconference schedule for the Cougars beginning with Tulsa on Dec. 15. UC Santa Barbara makes a visit to the Marriott Center on Dec. 18, followed by Seattle University on Dec. 20. The team’s final nonconference contest is on Dec. 29 when they host Western New Mexico.
BYU begins its second season in the West Coast Conference with a home game against San Francisco on Jan. 5.
The team’s first road conference game will be a challenge when they take on the University of San Diego on Jan.10. The Toreros had an impressive run in the postseason WNIT last year advancing to the Third Round.
With a 7-1 record at home in league play in 2011-12, BYU intends to continue that achievement in the Marriott Center this year. Its second home conference game is against Pepperdine on Jan. 12. The Cougars and the Waves split the series last year with each team winning on its home court. Another tough matchup on the road follows for BYU when they head to Spokane to battle Gonzaga on Jan. 17. The two league foes also split the series last season with each team winning at home. However, BYU defeated the Bulldogs in the championship game of the WCC tournament in March.
Two home games round out the month of January for the Cougars hosting Loyola Marymount on Jan. 24 and Saint Mary’s on Jan. 31. The team is at San Francisco on Jan. 26.
BYU hosts four WCC foes the following month beginning with San Diego on Feb. 7 and Santa Clara on Feb. 14 before finishing its home stand hosting Portland on Feb. 21 and Gonzaga on Feb. 23. The Cougars are on the road at Santa Clara on Feb. 2, at Saint Mary’s on Feb. 9, at Pepperdine on Feb. 16 and at LMU on Feb. 28.
Before heading to the WCC championships in Las Vegas, the Cougars round out league action at Portland on Mar. 2.
Defending WCC champion BYU returns to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas beginning Mar. 6, attempting to secure a second-straight WCC tournament title and an automatic bid into the NCAA postseason. The 2013 Zappos WCC Women’s Basketball Championships run Mar. 6 through Mar. 11.