No. 23 BYU falls to San Francisco at home

Senior Kristen Riley passed her sister, Lauren Riley Varley, to move to seventh in career rebounds with 680. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – After a close battle, the No. 23 BYU women’s basketball team fell to the San Francisco Dons, 71-64, Thursday night at the Marriott Center.

“As happy as I was last week, I’m as disappointed tonight," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "You got to give them a lot of credit though tonight. I thought they shot the ball really well when the shot clock was down and they hit the 3s when they needed to. I’m proud of my team for fighting back  when we got down by 11 or so. We made a couple of big plays but then they took it away again or we gave them a big basket.”

To watch a recap of the game, click here.

The win gave the Dons (5-22, 3-11) their first win over a ranked team since 1996. The loss marked the first West Coast Conference home loss for the Cougars (22-5, 10-3).

Senior Kristen Riley scored her eighth season double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Riley’s fifth rebound of the game gave her a career 674 rebounds to move her to seventh in the record books, passing her sister Lauren Riley Varley. Riley finished the night with 680 career rebounds. Riley also went 4-for-4 from the foul line.

Two other Cougars scored in double figures, with senior guard Haley Steed with 15 and true freshman guard Lexi Eaton with 12. Steed led the team in assists with six and went 5-for-5 from the line.

The Dons shot 37.9 percent from the field to best the Cougars, who shot 31.6 percent. San Francisco also won from behind the arc, shooting 38.1 from 3-point while holding BYU to 10 percent. Despite falling behind in shooting, BYU outrebounded San Francisco, 51-39.

BYU jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead following a field goal by Kim Parker to kick off the contest.

Freshman Jennifer Hamson came off the bench strong for the Cougars, knocking down two shots from the line and grabbing a steal in her initial seconds in the game.  After six missed BYU baskets, Hamson put two in from under the rim. 

San Francisco brought the score within two before Riley hit a fast break shot and a fade away jumper to put the Cougars back up by six.

Hamson ended the game’s scoring drought, hitting a basket after eleven missed shots from both teams.

Thanks to balanced scoring, the Dons remained close and were able to tie the game, 28-28, before taking their first lead of the game, 33-30, with two minutes remaining in the half. After a bucket by each team, BYU entered halftime trailing, 35-32.

Back-and-forth baskets spotted the beginning of the second half. The Cougars took a 39-37 lead as Parker drove to the basket and knocked down a free throw. The Dons answered with a trey to come back on top.

San Francisco went on a 17-7 run to find themselves up 52-39 on BYU, the largest lead of the night. Eaton stopped the drive with a bucket and free throw for BYU that sparked an 11-3 Cougar run.

Shots by Parker and Steed during the run brought the San Francisco lead to single digits with nine minutes left in the game. Steed knocked down the first BYU trey of the game for a 55-49 score.

San Francisco hit a shot from the arc to extend the lead back to 10. Free throws from Steed and Riley carried BYU within five. After grabbing the rebound, Riley dished the ball out to sophomore Stephanie Vermunt, who found the basket to close the gap to three with 1:14 on the clock.

“We had a good look at that 3 at the end of the game," Judkins said. "Stephanie (Vermunt) took it right and it’s a shot she can usually hit, but we just need to play with that type of intensity throughout the whole game.”

After a San Francisco field goal, Steed drove to the basket and drew a three-point play with 30 seconds left to bring the score to 63-61. The Dons hit two shots from the line to extend the lead to four.

With 22 seconds remaining, Steed brought the crowd to its feet as she knocked down a shot from beyond the arc to close the gap to one. Steed had BYU’s last six points in the game.

San Francisco hit its last four free throws to bring the final score to 71-64.  

"We came back with energy at the end, but it was unfortunate we didn’t have it earlier," Eaton said. "We’re disappointed, but will be back with a good practice tomorrow and be ready for Saturday. We got relaxed on defense and allowed a lot of open shots for them, and that gave them the momentum they needed. When we slip up on defense, our offense slips too. We just didn’t seem to have the energy tonight.”

With the loss, BYU drops to second place in conference standings tied with San Diego.

The Cougars will face San Diego Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Marriott Center. The game will be broadcast live worldwide on BYUtv. 

Postgame Notes

Player Notes
With her rebound at 7:15 in the first half, Kristen Riley tied her sister Lauren Riley Varley in career rebounds. Riley is now in seventh place in BYU history for rebounds. She also had her eighth double-double of the season and 12th of her career with 16 points to lead BYU and 11 rebounds to lead the game.

Haley Steed posted six assists against USF, giving her 513 career assists and putting her one assist away from tying for second place in BYU history. She also had two 3-pointers to put her at No. 5 in BYU history with 172 total, passing Thais Kidd’s career record. Steed had 15 points, the second highest of the Cougars, seven rebounds and two steals.

Dani Peterson set a career high of five assists. (Her former career high was two.) She also contributed six rebounds.

True freshman Lexi Eaton had 12 points and four rebounds.

Team Notes
BYU began the contest with a 9-2 run. BYU’s 7-0 run to start the second half put the Cougars on top before USF took the lead back.

BYU had 34 points in the paint compared to the Dons’ 20 and had 20 second chance points to the Dons’ one. The teams were equal in turnovers and points off turnovers with 13 and 15 apiece, respectively.

The Cougars out blocked the Dons 7-1 and had 17 assists to USF’s 13.

BYU outrebounded USF 51-39.

Three Cougars scored in double figures, compared to four Dons scoring in double figures.

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