Kristen Riley led the Cougars with 17 points and 11 rebounds against Saint Mary's.
MORAGA, Calif.—A rough New Year’s Eve nailbiter ended in a 54-48 loss for the BYU women’s basketball team, which was narrowly defeated by Saint Mary’s in the Cougars’ West Coast Conference debut Saturday.
The loss was the Cougars’ first in more than a month and ended a 10-game winning streak.
“I’m very disappointed,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “This was a game we should not have lost. We didn’t play like I know we can. We didn’t execute well and gave them too many second-chance opportunities.”
Kristen Riley led the Cougars with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Kim Parker had 10 points and four rebounds and Haley Steed led in assists with five and steals with three.
BYU (11-3, 0-1) shot 32.6 percent from the field and had 20 turnovers. The Gaels (11-4, 2-0) shot 29.4 percent from the field and also had 20 turnovers.
Dani Peterson got into position on the baseline for an easy bucket off a Lexi Eaton assist in the first 30 seconds. Parker followed with another jumper to put BYU ahead 4-0. The Cougars went cold for the next four minutes, giving Saint Mary’s an opportunity to bounce ahead 10-4 before Riley ended the scoreless streak on a layup.
Six Cougar fouls in the first five minutes helped the Gaels maintain the lead until a 9-0 run put BYU back on top. Stephanie Vermunt stole the lead on a corner 3-pointer but Gael Jackie Nared’s trey kicked off a 9-0 run for Saint Mary’s to take the lead.
Peterson closed the gap on a layup with 6:34 on the clock, bringing the Cougars within two. BYU stayed close on Saint Mary’s heels for the rest of the half, keeping within one possession until a 4-0 Gael scoring streak in the last minute of the half sent the Cougars to the locker room with a 30-24 deficit.
Riley led the Cougars with 12 points in the first half after seven free throw opportunities. She also had seven rebounds.
BYU forced 12 turnovers in the first half, scoring 11 points off those turnovers. The Cougars were plagued by fouls and turnovers in the first 20 minutes, with nine fouls and 11 turnovers.
Parker opened the second half with 3-pointer to cut the lead to 30-27. The Cougars held Saint Mary’s to 0-for-17 shooting from the field in the first 13 minutes of the second half, allowing Steed to tie the game at 31-31 on a jump shot. Parker seized the lead at the 12:22 mark on her second 3-pointer of the afternoon.
With 4:46 left on the clock, Riley gave the Cougars their largest lead of the game, 44-35 with her second 3-pointer of the game.
Saint Mary’s then went on a 10-1 run to cut the lead to one, 45-44 with just under two minutes remaining on the clock. Haley Steed would give BYU a three-point cushion, 47-44 on a jumper with 43 seconds left in the contest.
With five seconds left to play, Jasmine Smith stole BYU’s inbound pass and was fouled. Smith then drained both free throws to give the Gaels the lead at 49-48. Two late technical fouls on BYU and four more free throws by Smith gave Saint Mary’s a 54-48 victory.
With their first WCC contest behind them, the Cougars head to Portland to take on the Pilots Monday at 2 p.m. PST.
With the 48-54 road loss to Saint Mary, the Cougars ended their 10-game win streak. Their record stands at 11-3, 0-1. The loss is BYU’s first league loss since joining the West Coast Conference.
The Cougars dished out 12 assists compared to just seven for the Gaels.
BYU pulled down 31 rebounds to Saint Mary’s 43 marking the third time on the year that an opponent has had more rebounds than the Cougars.
Kristen Riley picked up her second double double of the season and the sixth of her career with game highs in points (17) and rebounds (11). The points mark her fourth double-figure outing of the year and the 31st of her career and tied for season highs.
Haley Steed dished out a team- and game-high five assists in the game vs. Saint Mary’s.
For the third straight time Kim Parker put up double digits in points with 10. It marks the 11th of the season and the 16th in her career that she’s put up double digits in points.