(Photo by Mark A Philbrick/BYU Photo)
After a decisive 72-57 upset victory over No. 5 seed NC State, the No. 12 seeded BYU women’s basketball team (27-6) advanced to the second round of this year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships.
The Cougars remain in Los Angeles and play No. 4 seed Nebraska (26-6), Monday, March 24 at 6 p.m. PST at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus. Fans can watch the game live on ESPN2. It will also be available live on the Internet on BYU Radio.
The Cougar win was just the third in Saturday’s first round action where the lower seeded team advanced. No. 10 Florida State and No. 9 Arizona State were the other two teams with upset wins. The last time that a Cougar team advanced to the second round was in 2006 when BYU beat Iowa 67-62 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
With the victory over the Wolfpack, head coach Jeff Judkins picked up his 27th win, the most wins in a season in his 13 years at the helm of the BYU program.
WCC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, Jennifer Hamson, tops the list in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots for BYU. She averages 18.1 ppg, 11.4 rpg and 4.1 bpg. Hamson ranks second in the nation in blocked shots, 14th in double-doubles and 15th in both rebounds per game and in field goal percentage.
Three other Cougars are averaging double figures in points, with Lexi Eaton chipping in 17.2 followed by 11.4 points from Kim Beeston. Junior forward Morgan Bailey rounds out the scoring output, contributing 10.3 points. She is second on the team in rebounding, pulling down 7.1 per contest.
BYU is averaging 72.4 points per game, while holding opponents to 63.7 points. The Cougars, who rank seventh in the nation in blocked shots, have recorded more blocks than opponents in 28 games, including a season-best 15 vs. NC State. In 26 games BYU dished out more assists and recorded more rebounds than opponents in 25 contests.
No. 4 seed Nebraska (26-6) advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 74-55 win over No. 13 seed Fresno State. The Cornhuskers finished third in the Big Ten Conference with a 12-4 mark, earning the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament with a 72-65 victory over Iowa in the league’s championship game.
The Huskers are a very balanced scoring team with four players tallying 10-plus points per game. Jordan Hooper leads the way with 20.4 points. Teammate Rachel Theriot follows with 14.2 points with Emily Cady contributing 12.7 points per game. Tear’a Laudermill rounds out the double digit scoring with 11.5 points per game. Hooper and Cady pull down 9.2 boards each. Theriot tops the list in assists dishing out 7.0 assists a game. Nebraska averages 75.6 points and 40.5 rebounds per game while holding opponents to 62.8 points per contest.
Nebraska leads the series 4-3. When playing on a neutral court, the Cornhuskers also have a 1-2 advantage.
These two teams played last on Jan. 2, 2001 in Provo where Nebraska picked up the 56-53 victory.
The Cougars had a 15-point lead with six and a half minutes left in the game. Unfortunately for them, they would not make another basket the rest of the game. Nebraska took advantage of BYU’s shooting slump and picked up the 56-53 win.
With a win over Nebraska, the Cougar women would advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament. They would head to Lincoln, Nebraska to compete in one of four Regionals.