Senior Mindy Bonham finished with 13 points, four rebounds and five steals. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
LAS VEGAS -- The BYU women’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss to the University of Utah in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament after a buzzer beater gave Utah the 50-49 victory in Las Vegas, Friday.
"Well, you got to give Utah a lot of credit," said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. "They played a great game, they hit the shots when it counted. Being up five points, that three pointer was a big basket for them. Then we had a couple chances with eight seconds, I thought, to stop them. We gave them too many opportunities."
BYU’s Kristen Riley and Mindy Bonham finished in double digits with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Bonham, MWC Defensive Player of the Year, also contributed four rebounds, three assists and a season-high five steals. Riley, the MWC 6th Player of the Year, also tallied five rebounds and an assist.
A quick start gave the Utes an early lead and an eventual 19-14 advantage over the Cougars but BYU didn’t stop there as they went on a 5-0 run to tie up the score at 19 on a 3-pointer from Coriann Wood.
Two more consecutive possessions gave BYU its first lead of the game in a 23-19 score before halftime. The Utes played catch-up until the half and were successful, taking the 24-23 lead as the teams left the court.
Despite BYU shooting just 27.6 percent from the field compared to Utah’s 43.5 percent in the first half, the Cougars were down just one point at the half. The halftime deficit was just the ninth time this season BYU trailed at the conclusion of the first half.
The first shot of the second half came from Jazmine Foreman to give the lead back to BYU with a steal from Mindy Bonham to set up Foreman for a trey in the next possession.
With under two minutes left in the game, Utah’s Iwalani Rodrigues hit a three to bring them within one but Bonham responded with a three of her own to keep the Cougars a safe distance from the Utes.
However, the lead would end up not being enough as the Utes took possession of the ball with under five seconds to play. A shot at the buzzer from Michelle Plouffe gave Utah the one-point advantage it needed to get the win.
The Cougars committed a season-low five turnovers while forcing 19 from the Utes and shot 31 percent from the field for the game.
"I'm proud of my team still," Judkins said. "We didn't play our best ball tonight but we still hung in there. It was a real ugly game, not a high scoring game. We just needed to make some plays at the end for us to win." Judkins was named the 2011 MWC Coach of the Year, his third such honor.
-For the 10th time this year the Cougars have had two players score in double figures.
-The team’s five turnovers are a season-low.
-BYU's bench has outscored its opponents 671 to 399 thus far on the year.
-Junior Kristen Riley came off the bench to score 15 points marking her 13th on the year and 25th contest where she’s tallied double digits. The points were team highs.
-Mindy Bonham recorded her 20th season and 60th career double figure game with her 13 points. Bonham's three assists, for 458 career total, also put her just one behind the fourth all-time assist leader in BYU women's basketball history.