LAS VEGAS -- The fourth-seeded BYU women's basketball team used a strong second half to beat tournament host UNLV 62-54 in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament Wednesday.
The Cougars trailed 30-24 at halftime, but outscored the Rebels 38-24 in the second half to get an eight-point victory. UNLV used a 7-0 run to start the game, but a layup at the 16:44 mark by senior Caroline Beus started a 16-3 BYU run. The Rebels rallied for a 9-0 run of their own to go 19-16. They then closed out the half on a 20-8 run to go up 30-24. The Cougars had three players in double figures with Erin Thorn leading the way, scoring 13 points, including three three pointers. Jennifer Leitner had 12 points and six rebounds while Chanell Rose had 10 points. Beus tied a season- and career-high 11 with rebounds. Junior Stacy Jensen had nine points, including a key three pointer down the stretch to ice the game.
"This was a great character win for us," BYU coach Trent Shippen said. "We played with great energy in the second half and had a tremendous rebounding game."
This is only the fourth time this season BYU has won when trailing at the half. The Cougars outrebounded UNLV for the first time in three meetings with a 40-31 advantage, including a 14-7 margin on the offensive boards. BYU shot 38.3 percent from the field while the Rebels shot 36.5 percent for the game. The Cougars shot 31 free throws compared to 14 for UNLV.
With the win, BYU improves to 17-11 (8-6) on the season, while UNLV finishes the season at 18-9 (8-6). The Cougars will play Utah, who beat Air Force 53-50, on Friday at 2:30 p.m. (PST).