(Photo by BYU Photo/Todd Wakefield)
Provo, Utah (Nov. 30, 2013)—Unblemished BYU got a pair of 18-point performances Saturday afternoon for a 64-56 victory over a scrappy Arizona women’s basketball team in the Marriott Center.
The Cougars (6-0) handed the Wildcats (1-6) their fourth consecutive loss as Morgan Bailey and Jennifer Hamson each scored 18 points. Arizona had been picked 11th by the coaches and 12th by the Pac-12 media in preseason polls.
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Hamson got her sixth consecutive double figure scoring outing and her 18th double-double of her career as she gathered a season-high 16 rebounds. Her presence and absence was felt throughout the game.
“We couldn’t shoot the ball well tonight, so we won ugly,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “We had to figure out a way to win. They threw a ‘wildcard’ at us we hadn’t seen before.”
That wildcard was doubling down on Hamson and Bailey.
“They were doubling on me and Jen with the help-off at guard,” said Bailey.
Hamson gave BYU a 54-45 lead after a timeout. She then hit her fourth-straight field goal, but Kama Griffitts drilled a trey to narrow the gap to 56-50.
Cougar Ashley Garfield’s put-back extended BYU’s advantage to 59-52. Hamson’s blocked shot under a minute snuffed the Wildcat momentum.
In the closing seconds of the game, Lexi Eaton missed a pair of free throws, but followed with a rebound and got fouled again as she converted a three-point play after the put-back for BYU.
Initially the teams traded buckets in the first half after the Cougars uncharacteristically lost the tip to the shorter Wildcats. Two offensive BYU miscues in the midst of a double-down defense set up a 12-7 Wildcat advantage.
Then BYU fed Hamson in the post for easy lay-ins. Eaton nailed her second trey, followed by a Kim Beeston field goal and Hamson converting her second free throw to narrow the margin, 20-17.
Garfield’s pair of free throws narrowed the gap 20-19 as the Cougar subs pressed defensively. BYU’s Xojian Harry hit her second from the line to knot the score at 20-20 as Hamson took a rest prior to the 10-minute mark.
Wildcat Candice Warthen got two of her team-leading 10 points in the first half when she converted after a BYU turnover to regain the Wildcat lead, 22-20. Arizona coach Niya Butts reminded her team in the timeout at 8:21 that Hamson was not in the game.
Cougar Morgan Bailey tied the score at 22-22 when a pass looped over the zone for a layup for two of her team-leading 11 points in the first half. That zone collapsed around the six-foot-seven Hamson when she reentered, but the Cougars found her and Bailey for easy lay-ins to tie the score 26-26.
Warthen weaved through for up a pair of layups to give the U. of A. a 30-26 lead which caused BYU coach Jeff Judkins to call a timeout.
Bailey canned a trey at the top of the arc after that timeout and Kylie Maeda tied the game at 30-30 from the charity stripe.
Hamson’s put-back at 1:52 gave BYU its first lead of the game at 32-30 from one of her 10 rebounds in the first half. Kristine Fuller made two free throws to lift BYU to a 34-31 lead, but she quickly picked up her third foul as Arizona converted to a 34-33 score at half.
“We made some adjustments at half,” Judkins said. “We overloaded more offensively. We tried to run plays where we had mismatches off switches, which is why we got some good put-backs.”
Maeda picked Arizona’s pocket which led to a breakaway lay-in by Bailey off an Eaton assist. But Griffitts tied the score at 36 with a three-pointer.
Arizona missed three layups and Hamson blocked her second shot of the game before Ashley Merrill solved the riddle for a 38-36 lead. Eaton tied the score at 38 on a layup.
Following a timeout, Eaton hit the first of two free to regain the lead at 39-38.
Bailey converted a reverse layup and Harry nailed a pair of free throws to give BYU its biggest lead of the game to that point, 43-38.
After a timeout BYU denied Arizona the inbound on a five-second call underneath its own basket. Almost a minute later, Makenzi Morrison drained a three to extend that lead to 45-38.
Hamson reentered the game and got her double-double minutes later with a field goal, 50-42. She countered Griffitts bucket, with another field goal for a 52-45 lead.
Prior to that run, Beeston blocked Warthen’s shot to spark the Cougars, who then got Bailey’s 18th point off a field goal for a 48-40 lead.
“I love blocked shots whether it’s me or anyone else,” said Hamson, who led the team with three swats, followed by Beeston’s pair.
A year ago Hamson led BYU to a 62-48 victory at Arizona in a true double-double when she scored 23 points and had 14 rebounds prior to flying home that night to help the Cougars beat Utah Valley University in volleyball with 14 kills. Hamson redshirted the volleyball season this year.
BYU is next in action on Tuesday night at Nevada, its third road trip of the season.
Arizona led by as many as seven points two separate times in the first half. BYU led by as many as nine points in the second half.
Wildcats took the lead for the last time at 38-36 with 15:51 left in the game. BYU then retook the lead at 39-38 and remained in front for the rest of the game.
There were a total of six ties and seven lead changes in the game.
The Cougars outrebounded the Wildcats 25-16 in the first half and 49-38 overall.
Arizona beat BYU in the points off turnovers battle 10-2 in the first half while finishing with a 12-7 advantage in that category.
Morgan Bailey led all scorers in the first half with 11 points. She finished by tying her career-high in points with 18 to go along with seven rebounds.
Hamson wasn’t far behind in the first half with nine points and 10 rebounds. She finished with a double-double of 18 points, a season-high 16 rebounds and three blocks.
Lexi Eaton was the third Cougar to score in double figures, finishing with 12 and six rebounds.
Kylie Maeda led BYU in assists with five.