(Photo by BYU Photo)
Heading into the third week of West Coast Conference action, the Cougar women (13-2, 3-1) are in second place in the conference standings behind league leading San Diego.
The team takes its first conference road trip of the season this week. On Thursday, BYU plays at Gonzaga (12-3, 2-1) in a 6 p.m. PST tip. The game with the Bulldogs will air live on BYU Radio.
Three players are scoring in double figures for the Cougar women, led by Jennifer Hamson who is averaging 19.2 points per game and has scored in double digits in all but one game played. Lexi Eaton follows with 15.7 points per game and Kim Beeston contributes 12.1 points.
As a team, BYU is averaging 73.5 points per game and are holding opponents to 66.5 points. The Cougars have recorded more blocks than opponents in all games and have dished out more assists in 13 of the 15 games played to date. They have also recorded more rebounds in 10 contests to date.
In the coaches’ preseason poll, BYU was picked to finish fourth in the WCC regular season race behind San Diego, Saint Mary’s and league favorite Gonzaga. Senior center Hamson was named to the preseason all-conference team, her second such honor.
• Head coach: Jeff Judkins (Utah, ‘78) enters his 13th season
• Team’s leading scorer: #5 Hamson, 19.2 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #5 Hamson, 10.3 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #4 Beeston, 3.7 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #4 Beeston, 1.4 spg
• Team’s blocks leader: #5 Hamson, 3.9 bpg
With a 12-3, 2-1 record, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are in a three-way tie for third place with San Francisco and Santa Clara in the WCC race. Gonzaga is coming off a 56-24 road win at Portland. Thursday’s matchup with the Cougars is the first home league contest for the Bulldogs.
Haiden Palmer is one of three players scoring in double digits for Gonzaga averaging 15.7 points per game. She’s followed by Sunny Greinacher who contributes 11.3 points with Lindsay Sherbret chipping in 10.2 points per contest. The Bulldogs are averaging 74.5 points and are pulling down 42.3 rebounds per game.
Gonzaga returns 12 letterwinners including four starters from last year’s team that went 27-6, won the WCC regular season, the tournament and competed in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
• Head coach: Kelly Graves (University of New Mexico, 1988) 13th season
• Team’s leading scorer: #3 Palmer, 15.7 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #14 Greinacher, 5.6 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #34 Redmond, 4.6 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #3 Palmer, 3.3 spg
• Team’s blocks leader: #44 Cheslek, 1.4 bpg
Gonzaga leads the series 7-5. In Spokane, BYU has a 2-4 record. The last time the Cougars won there was on Dec. 2, 2000, when they picked up a 74-57 victory.
Last year the two conference foes played three times, including a semifinal matchup in the WCC tournament. In all three contests, Gonzaga picked up the victories.
In Spokane, the Bulldogs won 74-59 on Jan. 17. In Provo on Feb. 23, Gonzaga recorded the 66-55 victory. It was the only conference loss for the Cougars in the Marriott Center last season.
The third meeting between the two programs came on March 9 when they met in one of two semifinals at the 2013 WCC basketball championships in Las Vegas. In that game, Gonzaga took the 62-43 win.
Up Next for BYU
After Thursday’s road league game at Gonzaga, the Cougar women travel to Portland to take on the Pilots on Sat., Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. PST. The following week they continue conference action on the road playing at San Diego on Saturday, Jan. 18 before returning home to host San Francisco and Santa Clara on Jan. 23 and Jan. 25.