2002-03 Women's Basketball Season Review
For the second straight year, the BYU women's basketball team participated in the post-season NCAA Women's Basketball Championships. And for the fourth straight time, the team was in the final game of the MWC Championships in Las Vegas.
A healthy and talented returning crop of players opened the 2002-03 season with high hopes for another winning season and going further in the NCAA tourney then ever before. Their optimism went up and down the 19-member roster second year head coach Jeff Judkins had lined up. By the time the season ended 15 of the 19 players had gotten significant playing experience.
For the first time in many years the team received national recognition, being ranked in the top 25 for most of the month of December. During that month, the Cougar schedule had the team on the road playing six of seven games from San Francisco on Dec. 5 to NC State on Dec. 14, then on to New Mexico for an appearance at the Triple Crown with a contest against Alabama on Dec. 21. By the end of the month, BYU had tallied a 4-3 record.
Just weeks before the start of MWC play in January, sophomore point guard Julie Sullivan, the 2001 league Newcomer of the Year, tore her ACL in practice. And after three weeks of conference action, senior forward Jennifer Leitner was dismissed from the team for breaking team rules.
Despite the challenges, the team regrouped, stayed focused, young players stepped up and the Cougars finished MWC play going 6-1 at home and 8-6 overall. Tied for second place with UNLV and New Mexico, BYU went into the league tournament seeded fifth. Even with the low seed, the defending conference champions, played great basketball defeating UNLV on their home court 66-64 in overtime in the quarterfinals, then upsetting regular season winners Utah 70-59 in the semifinal round, before falling to New Mexico by six, 46-52 for the MWC championship title.
For the fourth straight year, senior All-American Erin Thorn was named to the MWC All-Tournament Team. This time she was joined by teammate Danielle Cheesman. Both players also picked up additional league honors. Thorn was named to her fourth straight First Team All-Conference honor. Cheesman was named Second Team All-Conference. Thorn also picked up her third league Player of the Week honor on November 25 for her 19 points and six rebounds against the 11th ranked Longhorns. Jennifer Leitner also picked a POW award after helping the Cougars to a 2-1 record running the week of January 6. Her performance included a game-high 12 rebounds with six points and four assists against No. 22 Santa Barbara. Leitner capped the week with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists in a win over Denver.
By the end of the season, BYU fans had seen nine different lineups, with the final one composed of Thorn, Nelson, Overdiek, Cheesman and Kozlowski. That lineup finished with a 2-1 record. The team's most successful lineup was the one that tallied a 5-1 record and consisted of Thorn, Sullivan, Leitner, Hansen, and Cheesman.
During the year, the team picked up big wins like a 70-64 home win over Texas who was ranked 11th in November. The Cougars also got huge road wins over Southern Utah, at the University of San Francisco and at North Carolina State. In MWC play, BYU split with New Mexico, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming, each team winning on its home court and losing on the road.
In their second straight appearance to the NCAA tournament, the Cougar team was seeded 11th in the Midwest Regional. BYU's first round opponent was hosts Colorado who received a number six seed. In that game, the Cougars came out cold and could not get their shooting game going, eventually falling to the Buffaloes 45-84 at the Coors Events Center. Colorado went on to the "Sweet Sixteen" before falling to Villanova in Knoxville, Tennessee.
BYU finished the 2002-03 campaign with a 19-12, 8-6 record and tallied a 15-2 record when leading at the half. The team also compiled a 12-10 record when making at least five three pointers per game, was 15-4 in games where they out rebounded opponents, and had an 11-3 record when BYU had between 17 and 20 turnovers per game.
2002-03 Women's Basketball Honors
MWC Player of the Week (Nov., 2002)
MWC First Team All-Conference
MWC All Tournament Team
Selected as a 2002-03 Pre-Season College All-America Second Team honoree.
Named to the "Players to Watch" list for the 2003 Senior CLASS Award, but did not make the final list of 10 players.
Honored by the Cougar Club with the Crowd Pleaser Award for 2003
Scored at least one three-pointer in 39 consecutive games.
Holds the record for most three pointers in a game (9), for both the women's and men's programs
Became the women's program fourth leading scorer with 2,061 total career points
Holds the women's program record in total three-pointers made in a career with a total of (393)
MWC Player of the Week (Jan. 2003)
MWC All Tournament Team
MWC Second Team All-Conference
Head Coach Jeff Judkins Record:
Overall: 43-21, 18-10
Current: 19-12, 8-6, T/2nd
MWC Conference Games Only Team and Individual Stats/Finish
Category Place Avg/G
Scoring Offense 1st 67.8
Scoring Defense 3rdT 59.3
Scoring Margin 3rd 67.8 off/59.3 deff, +8.5
Free Throw % 4th .747, 130-174
Field Goal % 1st .449, 354-788
3-PT Field Goal % 1st .429, 111-259
Rebounding Offense 4th 34.6
Rebounding Defense 1st 31.6
Rebounding Margin 2nd +2.9
Blocked Shots 2nd 2.93
Assists 1st 17.64
Steals 4th 8.86
Turnover Margin 4th +1.36
Assist/Turnover Ratio 1st 17.6 ast. avg; 16.4 to avg, 1.08
Offensive Rebounds 6th 10.64
Defensive Rebounds 3rd 23.93
3-PT Field Goals Made 1st 7.93
Category Place Avg/G
Scoring: Erin Thorn 2nd 18.4
Scoring: D. Cheesman 11th 11.0
Rebounding: D. Cheesman 13th 5.4
Assists: Erin Thorn 1st 6.79
Assists: Kestlee Nelson 7th 3.07
Steals: Erin Thorn 3rd 2.43
Free Throw %: Erin Thorn 1st .906, 29-32
Assist/TO Ratio: K. Nelson 1st 43 A, 3.1 avg; 11T, 0.8 avg; 3.91 ratio
Assist/TO Ratio: E. Thorn 2nd 95 A, 6.8 avg; 43T, 3.1 avg; 2.21 ratio
Field Goal %: Erin Thorn 6th .462 (92-199)
Field Goal %: D. Cheesman 10th .441 (64-145)
3-PT FG%: Kestlee Nelson 1st .536 (15-28)
3-PT FG%: Erin Thorn 4th .425 (45-106)
3-PT FG Made: Erin Thorn 1st 3.21 (45)
3-PT FG Made: K. Nelson 12thT 1.07 (15)
Blocked Shots: Erin Thorn 8thT 0.71 (10)
Blocked Shots: Lisa Hansen 11thT 0.57 (8)
Offensive Reb: D. Cheesman 10th 1.86 (26)
Defensive Reb: D. Cheesman 15th 3.57 (50)