(Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
Box Score: BYU vs. USD
PROVO, Utah —Lexi Eaton Rydalch put on a show for her senior night finale as BYU clinched the West Coast Conference title with a 68-60 win over San Diego Thursday night at the Marriott Center.
"I'm very grateful for this season so far and what these young ladies have accomplished," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "They've surprised a lot of people, including me, with the way they've come together. They trust each other and they win games in so many different ways. Some nights it's jump shots, others it's getting the ball inside, others it's defense. As a coach, that's what you want. You want your team to come out and do whatever they can do to win."
Rydalch’s 31 points, six rebounds and three assists led the way as the Cougars (23-4, 15-1 WCC) won their 15th consecutive game, tying the longest streak in program history. BYU’s first WCC crown breaks Gonzaga’s string of 11 regular season championships in a row.
"I told them whenever you walk in this building you'll see it (conference championship banner) and remember what you did this year," Judkins said. "I'm very proud of them, but we still have a ways to go. Lexi said we're not done yet, and she means that. We've got two more games we'd like to take care of and hopefully be able to do well in the tournament. We're the defending tournament champs, so that's something we're going to take very seriously."
Kalani Purcell anchored the team effort with her 15th double-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher chipped in with seven points and four steals. The Cougars shot a season-best 51 percent from the field.
The Toreros jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, but five turnovers in the next 2:56 helped BYU to a 9-0 run and an 11-5 lead with 6:14 left in the first.
San Diego fought back to keep pace, but the Cougars led 16-14 at the end of the first quarter, holding the advantage in second-chance points 6-0.
In the beginning of the second, Rydalch’s three extended the lead to 20-14, but USD answered back with a three of its own at the 7:51 mark.
Both teams traded baskets until USD took advantage of Purcell’s absence following her third foul to regain the lead, 25-24, with 4:19 left in the half.
BYU pulled ahead 30-29 just before the half as Rydalch found the bottom of the net on a sideline inbounds play with four seconds on the clock. She led all scorers with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting as the only one in double-figures at the half.
USD led 39-38 with 7:09 left in the third quarter, but the Cougars would tie the game at 39 on a free-throw by Rydalch on their way to leading the rest of the game.
BYU converted on back-to-back threes. Rydalch was fouled as she drained a 3-pointer and converted the free throw for the four-point play. Pulsipher found the three on the left wing, forcing a USD timeout at 5:02 with a 46-39 lead.
Shooting droughts kept the game close as BYU led 49-46 after three quarters. The Cougars shot 1 of 7 to end the third while San Diego went 1 of 6 until an elbow jumper at the buzzer cut the margin to three.
Rydalch hit her third three of the game to begin the fourth quarter before Purcell converted a layup for a 54-46 lead with 8:03 left in the game.
At the 5:27 media timeout, the Cougars held a 57-50 margin over the Toreros following San Diego’s 16th turnover of the game.
Leading by six, BYU used a 6-0 run to reach its largest advantage of the game 66-54 with 1:42 left in the game. San Diego cut the lead to eight with 54 seconds left, but BYU held off the late rally.
The Cougars hit the road for its final two regular season games starting with Portland next Thursday at 7 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast on TheW.tv.
Postgame Notes and Quotes
With the win, the Cougars clinch their first West Coast Conference title. BYU now has a 15-game win streak, tying the longest in BYU women’s basketball history.
BYU is now 5-0 in the month of February. Being the last home game of the season, the Cougars claim a 12-0 undefeated record at home. The last time BYU women's basketball finished the year undefeated at home was the 1979-80 season.
The Cougars finished the game with 30 rebounds to the Toreros' 33. BYU won the assist battle for the 19th time this season, dishing out 20 assists to San Diego’s 13.
BYU had 36 points in the paint, while San Diego had 22. The Cougars finished the game with eight second chance points to the Toreros' seven. BYU finished the game with 21 points off turnovers, and San Diego had 16.
For the ninth time this year, two Cougars finished the contest in double figures: Rydalch (33) and Purcell (13). BYU shot a season best 51.0 percent from the field.
Tonight’s attendance of 2,293 is the highest in WCC play at the Marriott Center this season.
Seniors Lexi Eaton Rydalch, Kylie Maeda and Carly Stratton were recognized after the game following the WCC regular season title trophy presentation.
Kylie Maeda scored five of the Cougars' first 11 points. Maeda finished the game with five points, two rebounds and four assists on senior night.
Lexi Eaton Rydalch went into the half leading all scorers with 12 points. Rydalch finished senior night with a game-high 33 points. She also recorded six rebounds and three assists.
Kalani Purcell recorded her 15th double-double, finishing the contest with 13 points and 12 rebounds. She also finished the game with a game-high seven assists and two steals.
Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher scored seven points in tonight’s contest and also recorded a game-high four steals.
Head Coach Jeff Judkins
"I'm very grateful for this season so far and what these young ladies have accomplished. They've surprised a lot of people, including me, with the way they've come together. They trust each other and they win games in so many different ways. Some nights it's jump shots, others it's getting the ball inside, others it's defense. As a coach, that's what you want. You want your team to come out and do whatever they can do to win."
"I told them whenever you walk in this building you'll see it (conference championship banner) and remember what you did this year. I'm very proud of them, but we still have a ways to go. Lexi said we're not done yet, and she means that. We've got two more games we'd like to take care of and hopefully be able to do well in the tournament. We're the defending tournament champs, so that's something we're going to take very seriously."
Coach Judkins on Lexi Eaton Rydalch
"What a great career. She's the second leading scorer in BYU history and the leading scorer in West Coast Conference history. She won a lot of games. A lot of big games. You can't replace that no matter what. Hopefully she's set a lot of good goals for a lot of young ladies watching us play that are saying someday I'll be like Lexi Rydalch."
"Winning takes a lot of work. Winning is going the extra mile no matter what. It happens in practice, watching film, working hard in games, fighting through injuries. Both of our seniors did that this year."