Jennifer Hamson scored a game-high 14 points against San Diego. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – A strong showing from the BYU women’s basketball team allowed the Cougars a 64-50 victory over San Diego Saturday afternoon in the Marriott Center.
“This was a real struggle for a lot of reasons," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "San Diego is a very good team and they are a very good defensive team. I think they have one of the best players in the league in (Dominique) Conners because she is a great scorer and defender. I knew it would be a real slugfest tonight. After not playing well the other night we didn’t have a lot of confidence shooting the ball but we really willed our way to the win. ”
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While tied with San Diego (19-7, 10-4) for second place in the conference before, the Cougars (23-5, 11-3) now gain full ownership over the second place spot.
Haley Steed and Jennifer Hamson tallied 14 points apiece while Hamson also achieved seven rebounds. Steed also recorded five assists which put her at a career total of 518, surpassing Kathy Denton who held the record at 514.
Other top performers included Kristen Riley, who accomplished her third-straight double-double, totaling 12 points and 13 rebounds. True freshman Lexi Eaton contributed 11 points to the game as well.
A few quick layups from San Diego put the Cougars at a disadvantage to start off the game. Momentum changed when Stephanie Vermunt put down a 3-pointer that put the Cougars within two points of San Diego at 10-8.
Another 3 by Steed gave the Cougars their first lead over San Diego at 13-12. San Diego put up a lay in, but Steed answered with another trey, pushing the score to 16-14.
A layup from Riley and a 3-pointer from Steed advanced the Cougars to 21-17 over the Toreros.
San Diego crept back with a few successful field goals, but the Cougars continued to drain 3s as Riley sank one from behind the arch with just over two minutes left in the first half.
At 26-24, San Diego got off the last shot with just three seconds on the clock. The teams went into the locker tied at 26-26.
Steed hit double figures before halftime with 11 points while Riley contributed seven points and six rebounds.
The Toreros knocked down a couple of jumpers to take back the lead at the start of the second half, but the Cougars were quick to keep up with the help of a 3-pointer from Vermunt that tied the score at 32-32.
San Diego gained momentum after a deep 3 that put the Toreros up 39-34. With BYU in the bonus, Hamson made an easy three-point play after draining a free throw. Coming back down the court, Hamson was fouled underneath the basket and added another point to put the Cougars at 41-38 behind San Diego.
Strong BYU defense resulted in two unanswered layups from Eaton which allowed the Cougars to take back the lead at 42-41. Another three-point play by Hamson proved successful and the Cougars improved to 45-44.
BYU then went on an incredible 27-3 run over San Diego, with the last 19 points completely uncontested. The run left the score at 64-44. It was fast breaks and a 3-pointer from Steed as well as field goals from Riley, Hamson, Eaton and Kim Parker that helped to build momentum that secured the win for the Cougars.
“Our practice last night was really good," Judkins said. "It was aggressive and focused. That’s when you know you have a good team. We have leaders out there that got the team together. Your true character shows sometimes when you get knocked to the ground, and I thought our team really showed their character with a great practice and a good game.”
With the Cougars leading by 20 with 1:25 left in the second half, San Diego put down a shot from behind the arch. While they were also able to gain a few more points at the line, it wasn’t nearly enough to come back and BYU came away with the win over the Toreros at 64-50.
The Cougars will play their final home game as they take on Santa Clara Thursday in the Marriott Center at 7 p.m. MST. That night the team will honor its three seniors.
BYU held San Diego scoreless for more than four minutes in the first half. During the second half, BYU held the Toreros scoreless for more than seven minutes.
Saturday’s game was BYU’s fifth home game with more than 1,100 fans in attendance with 1,129.
BYU’s 21-2 run took back the lead for the Cougars and pushed them ahead 64-44.
This was the sixth time this season BYU has had four players in double figures.
BYU made 22 points in the paint to San Diego’s 12, 11 points off turnovers to San Diego’s five and 16 second chance points to San Diego’s six.
The Cougar bench outscored San Diego’s 21-11.
BYU’s largest lead of the game came with 1:25 left to play, when the Cougars led by 20.
With the BYU victory, they take sole possesion of second place in the WCC standings and San Diego moves into third place.
Haley Steed passed Kathy Denton to become second all-time in career assists with her assist at 15:27. Steed now has 518 career assists after collecting five against San Diego. Steed had four 3-pointers, shooting 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. She also had three rebounds and three steals. Haley led the game with 14 points, tying with Jennifer Hamson.
Kristen Riley recorded her third-straight double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. It was her ninth season double-double, sixth in conference play and 13th of her career.
Hamson led all scorers with 14 points for her 10th double-figure outing of the season. She also had three blocks and seven rebounds and was 6-for-8 from the charity stripe.
True freshman Lexi Eaton put up 11 points and two rebounds.