(Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
PROVO, Utah – Jennifer Hamson paced BYU to a 69-54 victory in the first round of the WNIT over Idaho State Wednesday at the Marriott Center with a career-high 25 points.
“Well it was nice to get a win tonight – I don’t think we played our best game, but we got it done," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "The girls did what they needed to do, and I’m proud of them. Our size was a huge advantage tonight, obviously. We seemed a bit sluggish on offense, but Haley was great in getting us going and making plays. Idaho State’s a good team, and it was nice to have a team play man to man against us, and really challenge us.”
Hamson also contributed 12 rebounds and five blocks. Haley Steed followed Hamson’s performance with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Six other Cougars scored throughout the game.
"I got great passes from my teammates and had a lot of easy baskets tonight," Hamson said. "I just wanted to do all I could for the team so we can keep going in this tournament."
Idaho State (18-13) was led by Ashleigh Vella with 15 points, five assists and four rebounds.
The Cougars (22-10) shot 40.7 percent from the field verses Idaho State’s 30.4 percent.
To start things off in the first half, the Cougars took an early 6-0 lead that began with an assist from Hamson to Keilani Unga inside the key. The next trip down Unga found Steed. Steed then completed the triangle finding Hamson in the paint. Idaho State’s Jessa Jeppesen broke the Cougars 6-0 run scoring the Bengal’s first basket of the night. Midway through the half, the Cougars went up 11-2, but the Bengals bounced back with 10 unanswered points taking the lead 15-13.
After four minutes without a basket, Steed hit a jumper from the left baseline tying the game at 15. With 4:21 left on the clock, Kim Parker Beeston knocked down two free throws after being tackled by Idaho State’s Kara Jenkins. The Cougars led 23-20.
Off an out-of-bounds play late in the half, Steed found Hamson at the top of the arc, curled out to the top, received the ball back from Hamson, and buried a three. The next trip down, Steed found Xojian Harry underneath the basket who passed off to Hamson. Hamson missed the first shot but converted on the second putting the Cougars up 30-22.
Unga scored one last time for the Cougars, which was followed by another Bengal three with 23 seconds left on the clock.
The Cougars led 34-27 going into the half. Hamson led all scorers with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Steed contributed nine points, three rebounds and three assists.
With BYU leading by seven at the start of the half, both teams scored within the first minute of play. The Cougars did not score again until the 15-minute mark, when a Hamson block turned into another basket from Steed--only the second basket of the half--putting the Cougars up 38-35.
Toward the midpoint of the half, Steed hit one of two free throws from the line, but an offensive rebound from Ashley Garfield set up a 3-pointer from Steed in the corner extending the lead back to seven. With 11 minutes on the clock, Steed forced a turnover, then on the other end found Garfield, who drove baseline finding Hamson in the paint for the score. Following Hamson’s basket, the Cougars forced another Bengal turnover, which converted into another Hamson basket. Another three from Steed gave the Cougars a 13-point lead, 51-38.
Over the course of the next several minutes Steed found Garfield for two and later, Harry for three, giving the Cougars a 17-point lead. Two free throws from Hamson tied her career best of 23 points and extended the Cougar’s lead to 20. The next trip down, Steed found Hamson for another score and a new career high of 25 points.
The second round of the WNIT will take place on Saturday at the Marriott Center against former Mountain West opponent San Diego State. The time is yet to be determined.
BYU held ISU scoreless for the first three minutes on a 6-0 run, which the Cougars turned into an 11-2 run.
BYU increased its lead to 10 with 39 seconds left in the first half. The Cougars regained the double-figure lead on a Hamson layup in the second half.
BYU shot 40.7 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from beyond the arc. Idaho State was held to 30.4 percent shooting and 53.8 percent from 3-point.
The Cougars outrebounded the Bengals 47-35, had 22 second-chance points to Idaho State’s three and outscored in the paint 30-14. BYU also had 20 assists to Idaho State’s 14.
Jennifer Hamson hit double figures before halftime, scoring 12 in the first half and recording a career-high 25 overall. She converted her success into a double-double at the start of the second half, grabbing 12 total. It was her fifth double-double of the season and eighth of her career. She also had five blocks, tying her season high.
Haley Steed also scored in double figures with 20 points. She nine assists and six rebounds.
Kim Parker Beeston led the Cougars with five steals, tying her career record and setting a new season record. She also had seven points.