(Photo by Mark A Philbrick/BYU Photo)
LAS VEGAS – No. 2 seed BYU women’s basketball fell 71-57 to No. 1 seed Gonzaga Tuesday in championship game the 2014 West Coast Conference Tournament.
“I feel like this team didn't play its best,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “You have to give Gonzaga a lot of credit for that. There was a stretch for seven or eight minutes where we didn't handle them very well and that was the difference. We'll be able to learn from this moving forward.”
BYU (26-6) was held to just 30 percent shooting from the floor while No. 18 Gonzaga (29-4) hit 43 percent of its shots. As a team, the Cougars went a perfect 21 for 21 from the charity stripe – a BYU single-game record.
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Jennifer Hamson led all scorers with 24 points and seven rebounds to go along with three blocks. The 2014 WCC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year was named to the all-tournament team. This marks her second all-tournament honor as Hamson also received WCC postseason accolades in 2012. Lexi Eaton scored in double figures with 15, including going 11 for 11 from the free throw line. Kim Beeston was the only other Cougar to score in double figures, collecting 12 in addition to a team-high five assists.
BYU’s first eight points came from four Hamson shots in the post to put the Cougars ahead 8-6. Neither team then scored between timeouts for the next four minutes of play.
The Bulldogs then went on a 14-0 run to take a 22-10 double-digit lead with under five minutes left to play in the first half.
BYU turned the ball over five times during a near five-minute scoring drought before Eaton hit four consecutive free throws to bring the Cougars back within eight at 22-14. Gonzaga followed with eight more points to bring the score to 30-14 heading into the break.
Beeston hit BYU’s first field goal in 15 minutes of game time, a 3-pointer, to cut into the Bulldogs’ lead at 35-21 with 14:18 left in the game.
The two teams then traded buckets until a quick 6-0 Gonzaga run gave the Bulldogs a 20-point advantage at 47-27. Two quick layup’s from Hamson brought the Cougars within 10 at 50-40 with 6:44 remaining. Gonzaga countered with an 11-2 run to bring the score to 61-42.
The Bulldogs held on to their lead as Gonzaga took the 71-57 victory.
The Cougars await “Selection Monday” on March 17 at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN in hopes of getting an at-large bid to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Future games and updates can be found on the BYU women’s basketball schedule page.
BYU pulled down 45 rebounds to Gonzaga’s 32 . It's the 24th time this year that the Cougars had more boards than their opponent.
The 14 points BYU scored in the first half are the lowest of the season. The previous low was 21 points the team scored at Gonzaga during the WCC regular season.
BYU scored 28 points in the paint compared with 26 for Gonzaga. The Cougars also recorded 15 second chance points compared with six for the Bulldogs.
The Cougars finished with three players scoring in double digits making it the 23rd time this season that BYU had at least three players with 10-plus points.
BYU shot 100 percent from the free throw line, going 21 of 21 from the charity stripe, a new BYU record. This season, the team’s best free throw percentage had been .909 (20-22).
With a game high 24 points Jennifer Hamson recorded her 29th game in double figures. She also led the way in blocked shots with a game-high three, while tying for team highs in rebounds with seven.
For her performance, Hamson was named to the 2014 WCC Women’s All-Tournament Team. It’s the second honor for Hamson as she was on the 2012 all-tournament team, her sophomore year.
Kim Beeston finished the game with 12 points making it the 22nd time this season that she’s recorded double figures in points. She also led the way in assists with five.
Lexi Eaton scored 15 points while going 11 of 11 from the free throw line. It’s the 25th time this year that she’s finished with at least 10-plus points in a game. She also had a team-best two steals. Her perfect performance at the charity stripe is the 12th time this season she’s shot 100 percent from the line.