(Photo by BYU Photo/Marcos Escalona)
LOS ANGELES – Jennifer Hamson led No. 12 seed BYU women’s basketball to an 80-76 upset victory over No. 4 seed Nebraska Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“We didn’t handle Nebraska’s pressure very well and turned the ball over often,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We did defend and make foul shots when we had to, though. I knew Jen would make those last two free throws, so the ball went to her. This is a great team win.”
Hamson led BYU with 15 points and 14 rebounds to go along with four blocks. Three other Cougars scored in double figures led by Morgan Bailey (18, ties a career high), Lexi Eaton (15) and Xojian Harry (11). Kim Beeston had a game-high eight assists in the victory.
BYU (28-6) had 17 second-chance points compared to Nebraska’s (26-7) three. The Cougars also had an advantage in bench points, 17-0.
Bailey struck first for the Cougars, getting BYU’s first four points to give her team an early 4-2 advantage.
The Cougars had jumped out to a 12-5 lead at the first media timeout with points coming from four different BYU players.
A 3-pointer each from Eaton and Kylie Maeda put the Cougars up by double digits. Hamson followed with a layup to give BYU a 20-8 edge less than six minutes into the game.
An Eaton jumper helped BYU double Nebraska’s point total at 32-16 with under six minutes left in the half.
The Huskers then followed with an 8-0 run to cut the Cougars’ lead back to single digits at 37-28. BYU went into the locker room at halftime, however, with an 11-point advantage at 41-30 following a pair of Bailey buckets.
Both teams traded points coming out of the intermission until Nebraska scored seven straight to trim BYU’s lead to four at 44-40.
Hamson picked up her fourth foul with just over 10 minutes left to play, but the Cougars maintained their 61-56 lead at the eight minute mark.
Harry then hit three 3-pointers within two minutes of game time to extend BYU’s advantage back to double digits at 69-57.
With Hamson back in the game, she picked up three points with a bucket and a free throw to put the Cougars up 78-72 with just 14 seconds remaining. The Huskers then scored four quick points before Hamson hit another pair of shots from the charity stripe to secure an 80-76 BYU victory.
There were 14 combined fouls called in the final three minutes of regulation.
With the win, the Cougars advance to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are just the third 12 seed ever to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
They will face the winner of No. 1 Connecticut/No. 9 Saint Joseph’s on Saturday, March 29, in Lincoln, Neb. The game will be broadcast live on the ESPN family of networks. Links to live stats and a video feed can be found on the BYU women’s basketball schedule page.
With the win over No. 4 seed Nebraska, the Cougars advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in school history and the second time under head coach Jeff Judkins.
BYU shot 53.6 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting 50.9 from the field.
In the first half, the Cougars had made five of their 13 attempted buckets from 3-point range and ended the game with 10 made treys.
BYU had 19 rebounds to Nebraska’s 15 in the first half. For the game, the Cougars pulled down 40 boards compared with 31 for the Huskers, making it the 26th time that the Cougars pulled down more rebounds than their opponents.
In the first half of play, BYU dished out eight assists with Nebraska getting five. The Cougars picked up their 27th game recording more assists than their opponents with 17 to the Huskers 14.
For the 15th time this year and the second-straight game four players scored in double figures in the game vs. Nebraska. Morgan Bailey (18), Lexi Eaton (15), Jennifer Hamson (15) and Xojian Harry (11).
BYU's 28 wins are the most in Jeff Judkins' tenure as well as in the history of BYU women's basketball.
Morgan Bailey led all scorers in the first half of action with 12 points. At the end of the game she had 18 points, which tied for her career high and were the 16th and second straight time she’s tallied a double digit outing in scoring. She also grabbed six rebounds, one block and three assists.
After the first 20 minutes of action Jennifer Hamson had pulled down the most rebounds with nine and also had recorded the most blocks with three. She finished the game with 14 rebounds and four blocks. With the 15 points she picked up her 21st double-double and the second straight.
Lexi Eaton picked up her 27th game and the sixth straight with double figures in points with 15. She also pulled down five rebounds and dished out two assists.
Xojian Harry came off the bench for the Cougars and picked up her third game scoring in double figures with 11 points, nine were from 3-point range.
Kim Beeston led the way in the assist category with a team-best eight. She also scored six points, grabbed five rebounds, had one block and one steal.