(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
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PROVO, Utah — Costly turnovers proved the difference as BYU women’s basketball fell to Washington State 72-64 in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament Thursday night at the Marriott Center.
“I don’t know what happened the second half. It seemed like we were really flat, maybe more mental than physical,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We gave them a few too many easy baskets and we learned you can’t have 29 turnovers. I’m happy with my seniors and they’ve had a great career here.”
Despite BYU outshooting Washington State 57 percent to 42 percent from the field, the visiting Cougars scored 26 points off of turnovers. Makenzi Pulsipher led the homestanding Cougars with 23 points, followed by Cassie Broadhead’s 14. Kalani Purcell scored eight points, pulled down nine boards and recorded seven assists.
BYU started the night shooting 9-of-10 from the field, compared to Washington State’s 4-of-10. Three-consecutive jump shots from Pulsipher, Purcell and Broadhead sparked an early 6-0 lead two and a half minutes into the quarter. Pulsipher, Broadhead and Brenna Chase all connected on 3-pointers to put BYU up 22-11 at the end of the period.
Washington State responded with a 4-0 run to open the second quarter 22-15 and cut BYU’s lead down to seven points twice, but the homestanding Cougars maintained their composure. The team shot 70 percent from the field in the period en route to a 14-point advantage, 41-29, heading into halftime.
Once again, the visiting Cougars started a period in impressive fashion. They ignited a third quarter 9-3 run to trail by just two points, 46-44, with 6:10 on the clock. A jumper from Purcell and a layup from Jasmine Moody put BYU up by five, 50-45. Pulsipher and Chase hit back-to-back 3-pointers within 30 seconds of each other to give BYU an 11-point lead, 56-45, with 4:03 left in the quarter. Washington State fought to stay in the game and cut the deficit to one, 58-57, at the end of the third quarter.
A jumper from Amanda Wayment extended BYU’s lead 20 seconds into the final quarter, 60-57, before the visiting Cougars evened the score, 60-60 with 6:41 on the clock. Pulsipher scored on a layup to take a 62-60 lead with 5:47 to play before Washington State responded seconds later with a jumper to tie the game at 62-all. The visiting Cougars held BYU scoreless for almost five minutes of play as an 8-2 run gave them the 72-64 victory.
Washington State will play Wyoming on Saturday in the second round of the WNIT.
In its eighth WNIT appearance, BYU fell to Washington State 64-72.
Win the loss, the home-standing Cougars move to 5-5 all time against Washington State.
BYU shot a staggering 81.8 percent from the field in the first quarter, starting 8 of 8 as a team. The Cougars finished shooting 55.6 percent for the game.
For the tenth time this year, two BYU team members scored in double figures—Pulsipher (23), Broadhead (14).
Washington State outscored BYU 26 to 14 in points off of turnovers. BYU gave the ball away 29 times to WSU’s 13.
Makenzi Pulsipher led all scorers with 13 points at halftime. The senior finished the contest with a game and season-high 23 points, knocking down three 3-pointers. Pulsipher totaled nine games with 3-plus 3-pointers in the 2016-17 and 23 in her career.
Cassie Broadhead scored 14 points for BYU, going 5 of 8 from the field. The junior guard also grabbed six rebounds and tallied five assists. Broadhead posted 30 double-digit performances this season.
Kalani Purcell flirted with a triple-double recording eight points, nine rebounds and a game-high seven assists.
Kristine Nielson tied a season and career-high in assists. Her four assists make for her fifth career 3-plus assist game. Nielson also added three points and five rebounds in the loss.