PROVO -- In a day full of BYU sports, the BYU women's basketball team was not to be overshadowed, as it pulled out a thrilling 80-77 victory Saturday evening against Oklahoma City University in its regular season opener.
The Cougars led by a narrow 33-31 margin at halftime, but the second half was rife with lead changes. After going back and forth the entire half, BYU fell behind toward the end of the game, and with two minutes left, still trailed by five. Senior forward Alisha Griffeth sank two free throws to pull the Cougars within three with less than two minutes to play.
And then rookie Erin Thorn took over, scoring seven points in the final minute of play. Thorn, the 1999 National Preseason Freshman of the Year selection, hit two off-balance jumpers to give the Cougars a 77-76 edge. With just 12 seconds remaining on the clock, OCU's Mary Ogunsola nailed one of two free throws to knot the score at 77. Not to be outdone, Thorn found the ball and pulled up at the three-point line, where with just one second left, she hit nothing but net to give the Cougars the 80-77 win.
"That's why (Thorn's) been nominated as the preseason national freshman of the year," said BYU head coach Trent Shippen. "It takes a lot of confidence for a freshman to come in and play like that in the clutch."
Thorn started at shooting guard, but later filled in for point guard Stacy Jensen, who was plagued with foul trouble much of the game. Thorn finished with 17 points and six assists in her first official collegiate game.
Senior Cady Williams also played a phenomenal game, scoring 14 in the first half and ending with 23 in the game. Williams also forced a turnover that led to one of Thorn's late-game scores.
Freshman Jennifer Leitner came off the bench to score 10 points for BYU, while senior co-captain Jill Adams was a monster on the boards, collecting 12 rebounds total, 11 of which were defensive grabs.
Center Mary Ogunsola was the leading scorer for OCU, racking up 31 for the Stars.
OCU, the defending NAIA national champion, was dealt its first loss of the season to fall to 3-1 while the Cougars improved to 1-0. BYU will travel to Washington on Tuesday to face the Huskies in its first road game of the season.
"It will be another tough ball game," Shippen said. "We beat them (in Provo) last year, but they went to the NIT last year with us and are picked to finish in the middle of a very good basketball conference."
Tuesday's game will begin at 8 p.m. BYU's next home meeting will be against Gonzaga next Friday.