(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
SPOKANE, Wash.—Morgan Bailey’s career-high 18 points couldn’t prevent a 74-59 loss at Gonzaga for the BYU women’s basketball team, snapping the Cougars’ nine-game win streak Thursday night.
BYU’s first loss in conference play came despite a second-half 17-0 rally. The Cougars fall to 12-5 overall and 3-1 in West Coast Conference play.
"We came out sluggish and they came out really aggressive," head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We didn’t handle their pressure well. I’m glad we fought back and were more aggressive in the second half. Morgan and Ashley (Garfield) had really good games and that’s a positive for us. We have to be more focused and ready to play when we’re on the road."
Bailey earned her 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting and had five rebounds. Steed also had 18 points, including four 3-pointers. She led the Cougars with five assists.
Ashley Garfield led BYU with eight rebounds and had eight points.
BYU shot 41.3 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc, while the Zags (14-5, 4-0 WCC) shot 52.6 percent overall and 40 percent from the 3-point line.
Plagued by turnovers, BYU fell behind 10-0 before Steed finally put points on the board on free throws with 14:46 on the clock. She added to the Cougars’ score with a 3-pointer to bring the score to 17-5.
Bailey finally got BYU into double figures with a jumper at 9:17, but the Cougars still struggled to get back in the game as Gonzaga continued to pound the baskets. The Bulldogs finished the half ahead 37-19, shooting 52 percent from the field and 60 percent from downtown.
The Cougars’ 11 turnovers in the first half aided the Zags, who also led on the boards 16-12 and 8-2 on assists.
Gonzaga pushed the lead to 24 early in the second half. Bulldog Shelby Cheslek increased that lead to 27 on a layup with 16:25 left to play for Gonzaga’s biggest lead of the game.
With 14:42 on the clock, the Cougars strung together a 7-0 scoring streak with the help of an old-fashioned three-point play by Keilani Unga and a Bailey jumper. Stephanie Seaborn made two free throws, keeping BYU at 100 percent shooting from the charity stripe. Back-to-back treys from Steed pushed the scoring streak to 13-0.
Another pair of made free throws by Seaborn cut BYU’s deficit to 12 and increased the BYU run to 15 straight points. Garfield’s layup with 11:27 left on the clock put BYU within 10 points of the Zags. Cheslek ended the 17-point Cougar scoring streak with a layup of her own.
Steed cut Gonzaga’s lead to single digits on her fourth 3-pointer of the night, but BYU let the Bulldogs make it back up with five straight points to lead 67-50 with just under five minutes to play.
Bailey turned up the heat as the minutes ticked by, putting up a jumper and a 3-pointer to put BYU’s deficit at 12. But the Cougars couldn’t get closer than 12, and Gonzaga held off the Cougars for a 74-59 Bulldog victory.
“I think we learned to fight back tonight,” Bailey said. “But we also learned that we need to throw the first punch in the beginning.”
BYU has a bye Saturday and returns to action Thursday, hosting Loyola Marymount at the Marriott Center at 7 p.m. MST.
BYU was down by 18, 37-19 at the half in the road game at Gonzaga for just the third time this year.
The Cougars finished the game with 10 assists to Gonzaga’s 18. It’s just the third time on the season that an opponent has recorded more assists.
Despite the loss, BYU had a strong showing from its bench, scoring 30 points to Gonzaga’s 11.
Haley Steed recorded her sixth double-digit point performance of the season with 18 points, which tied for a team high. Steed, who is the nation’s assist leader, finished the contest with a team-best five assists.
Off the bench, Morgan Bailey finished the game with a career-high 18 points, marking the ninth game she’s tallied double figures in points this year. The points tied for team highs.
Ashley Garfield came off the bench to lead the Cougars in rebounds, grabbing a team-high eight boards. It’s the second time this year that she has led the team in the rebound category.