(Photo by BYU Photo/Marcos Escalona)
LOS ANGELES – Lexi Eaton led No. 12 seed BYU women’s basketball to a 72-57 upset victory over No. 5 seed North Carolina State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“First of all I want to congratulate to NC State on a great season,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “They are a very good team, very classy and are well coached. I was very impressed with them. I’m proud of these young girls. They played together and this is how they’ve been playing all year and how we got to 27 wins. We had a great team effort. They all stepped up and did something that contributed to this win. We’re happy.”
Eaton led BYU with 25 points and eight rebounds while tying the game high in assists with four. Jennifer Hamson collected a career-high tying 19 boards and nine blocks to go along with 12 points for a near-triple double. Morgan Bailey added a double-double of her own with 13 points and 12 boards and Kylie Maeda added 14 points to tie her career high.
BYU (27-6, 14-4) out shot North Carolina State (25-8, 11-5) 45 to 27 percent. The Cougars also outrebounded the Wolfpack 52-37 and blocked a season-high 15 shots.
After a Wolfpack bucket the Cougars scored seven-straight points to jump out to an early 7-2 lead.
Despite a rally from NC State, three different Cougars hit 3-pointers to extend BYU’s lead to 15-10 with 12 minutes left in the first half.
With a 3-pointer from the Wolfpack’s Krystal Barrett, NC State took its first lead of the game at 24-22. Eaton quickly countered with a jumper of her own to tie the game at 24.
The Cougars ended the first half on a 9-1 run to keep a 33-26 advantage heading into the break.
A pair of Eaton free throws gave BYU a 10-point lead at 38-28 just after the start of the second half.
The Cougars maintained their double-digit lead at 54-38 with under 10 minutes left to play thanks to a 16-5 run.
After jumping ahead by 21 points, NC State went on a quick 8-0 run to trim BYU’s lead to 13 at 62-49.
Hamson collected her 19th board and ninth block with under two minutes to go to tie her career highs in those categories.
Maeda’s drive to the bucket with the shot clock expiring gave the Cougars their last points as BYU ran away with a 72-57 upset victory.
The win marks the first time BYU has won an NCAA Tournament game since the 2005-06 season when the Cougars defeated Iowa 67-62. The win also gives the Cougars 27 victories this season - the most wins ever in Jeff Judkins' BYU tenure.
BYU continues play in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on Monday, March 24, at 6 p.m. PDT by facing No. 4 seed Nebraska in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers defeated No. 13 Fresno State 74-55 to advance. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Links to live stats and a video stream can be found on the BYU women’s basketball schedule page.
BYU finished the first half with eight blocked shots, five were from senior center Jennifer Hamson. North Carolina State did not record a single block in the first half.
The Cougars pulled down 52 rebounds to the Wolfpack’s 35. It marks the 25th time this year that BYU has grabbed more boards than its opponent.
BYU dished out 13 assists - two more than NC State, making it the 26th game that the Cougars recorded more assists than their opponents.
Four Cougar players finished the game with double figures in points. It’s the 14th game this year that four players have recorded 10-plus points in a game. Lexi Eaton led the way with a game-high 25 points, Kylie Maeda scored 14, followed by 13 from Morgan Bailey and 12 from Jennifer Hamson.
The win advances BYU to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the second time during Jeff Judkins' tenure that his team has picked up a first round win in the NCAA Tournament.
Lexi Eaton led all scorers in the first half with 17 points while shooting 54 percent from the field. She finished the game with 25 points. The points are the 26th time she’s tallied double digits in points and the ninth with 20-plus points. Eaton also pulled down eight rebounds and tied the team-high four assists.
Jennifer Hamson pulled down the most rebounds in the first half with 11 to go along with the most blocked shots in the period with five. She totaled 19 rebounds and nine blocks in the game. With the 12 points she scored, Hamson picked up her 21st double-double of the season.
With 13 points and 12 rebounds, Morgan Bailey recorded her fifth double-double of the season.
Kylie Maeda tied her career high in points with 14. She also dished out two assists and pulled down four rebounds.
Kim Beeston tied the team high in assists with four while scoring three points and grabbing four rebounds.