(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – Despite trailing most of the game, the BYU women's basketball team came back from an 11-point deficit in the second half to defeat Seattle University 70-62 at the Marriott Center on Thursday afternoon.
Grad student point guard Haley Steed sparked the comeback win for the Cougars (8-4), scoring 11 of her game-high 18 points in the final seven minutes. Steed also had seven assists and a season-high five steals in the victory. Seattle moved to 3-6 on the season with the loss.
"You have got to give Seattle a lot of credit, they came out really aggressive and defensively, we just weren't where we needed to be," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We gave them a lot of easy baskets early, and they got momentum. The nice thing about it is we came in, being down most the game, and I thought we did a good job of fighting our way back. Maybe that is something that this team needs to learn, how to come back from not playing your best game. At the end, I thought we executed really well when we needed to both offensively and defensively."
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The game opened with Cougar center Jennifer Hamson scoring with a right-handed mini-hook from the left block. It was a back-and-forth affair early on, with neither team leading by more than two points until Seattle's Kim Flournoy made a jumper to put the Redhawks ahead 14-10.
Seattle's full court pressure caused problems for the Cougars, who had 12 turnovers in the first half. With BYU trailing 16-11 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the half, Kylie Maeda broke Seattle's pressure and found Stephanie Vermunt Seaborn in the right corner for three points. Seaborn played 20 minutes and scored six points with a pair of 3-pointers. Keilani Unga evened the score at 16 with a left-handed drive down the middle with 8:39 to play.
A pair of free throws by Kim Parker Beeston with 5:50 to play tied the game again at 22. BYU was 5-for-8 from the line in the first half. Seattle, in contrast, had 17 attempts from the charity stripe in the opening period and made 10.
BYU went without a field goal for more than four minutes in the first half before Steed made a 3-pointer to cut the score to 30-27 with 2:41 to play. On the next possession, Beeston made a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock that fired up the crowd and tied the game at 30. Despite the Cougars' efforts, however, they couldn't regain the lead before the half and went to the locker room trailing the Redhawks 34-30.
Sylvia Shephard was the star for the Redhawks in the first half, making her first four shots and scoring 12 points in the period.
The Cougars came out of the break a bit sluggish as the visitors steadily built on their lead. A steal and a layup by Shephard gave the Redhawks an 11-point lead at 46-35 with 15:14 remaining in the game.
BYU showed its composure and responded with an 11-2 run over a three-and-a-half minute span to close the gap to 48-46 with 11:57 to play. The quick spurt included a 3-pointer from the right wing by Seaborn and a couple layups by Morgan Bailey, who finished the game with seven points in nine minutes.
Redhawk point guard Daidra Brown chipped in a couple buckets and Kacie Sowell beat the shot clock to give Seattle a 56-49 lead with 7:23 remaining. From that point, however, Steed took control of the game, calmly answering for the Cougars with back-to-back makes from downtown to pull the home team within one.
A pair of free throws by Hamson put BYU ahead 57-56. It was their first lead since an 8-7 advantage five minutes into the game. With 3:55 to play, Steed fed Hamson on the left block for another basket to put BYU up 61-58. Hamson finished the game 6 of 6 from the floor with 14 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
Steed picked up her seventh assist of the night on a pretty bounce pass across the lane to a cutting Xojian Harry that put BYU up by five with 2:31 to go. On the next Cougar possession, Beeston beat the shot clock again on a pull up jumper from the left wing to put BYU ahead 65-58. Beeston scored 13 points, making 8 of 10 free throws and picking up three assists and two steals. Steed iced the game from the line for BYU, making 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute of play.
The Cougars will host Western New Mexico in their final non-conference game of the season on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv.
BYU shot 60 percent from the field, a season high, while Seattle shot 51.1 percent.
BYU outscored in the paint 28-24. The Cougars also won the rebounding battle with 25 to Seattle’s 22.
The Redhawks’ 15 steals kept Seattle in control of the game until 5:13 left in the second half. BYU had eight.
Thursday was Jennifer Hamson’s third straight game scoring in double figures. She collected 14, shooting 6-for-6 with five rebounds.
Haley Steed recorded 18 points, dished out seven assists and had a season-high five steals.
Kim Parker Beeston scored 13 points against the Redhawks and had five rebounds.
Keilani Unga also shot 100 percent from the field, going 4-for-4 for eight points.