Cougars open season with 67-51 win over LSU
LAS VEGAS — Behind a game-best 30 points from Shaylee Gonzales, BYU women’s basketball opened the 2020-21 season with a 67-51 win over LSU Friday night at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout.
"Shaylee was awesome for us tonight," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We do need to cut down on our turnovers moving forward, but overall I'm proud of our effort."
Playing in her first game since the 2019 NCAA Tournament after missing last year with an ACL injury, Gonzales shot 11 of 14 from the field on the night, including six of seven from distance. The redshirt sophomore hit her first six shots of the game and finished the contest with four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Lauren Gustin pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds for the Cougars (1-0) while adding six points and three assists. Paisley Johnson Harding poured in 13 points, hitting three 3-pointers, to go along with an assist and a rebound. Maria Albiero added eight points and four assists while Tegan Graham chipped in seven points, four rebounds and three assists.
As a team, BYU shot 52.2% from the floor while holding the Tigers (0-1) to just 35.1%. The Cougars also recorded a 61.1% three-point shooting percentage, tied for the eighth best in program history.
Gonzales opened the game with back-to-back triples to give BYU a quick 6-0 lead. After three consecutive LSU baskets tied the game at 6, a reverse layup by Gonzales put the Cougars back on top 8-6 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. Both teams then traded baskets, as a Harding layup gave BYU a 12-10 lead at the end of the period.
Gonzales carried her hot shooting into the second quarter, hitting another 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper to put the Cougars up 17-10. A jumper by Graham followed by four consecutive free throws by Albiero then brought the score to 23-13 for BYU midway through the period. A Gonzales put-back layup and a corner triple by Harding capped an 11-0 Cougar run, putting BYU up 28-13. After the Tigers put together a 7-2 run, a Harding layup followed by a Gustin jumper at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 34-20 lead at the break.
Gonzales nailed another triple from the top of the key and Harding hit one from the right wing to put BYU up 40-25 three minutes into the second half. A Gonzales layup followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Kaylee Smiler and Graham brought the score to 48-36 for the Cougars with 2:25 left in the third. A steal by Graham led to a fast break layup by Gonzales just before the third quarter buzzer, giving BYU a 50-38 lead heading into the fourth.
A layup by Gustin, followed by an Albiero jumper and a 3-pointer by Gonzales put the Cougars up 12, 57-45, with 7:26 remaining. Albiero sank a pair of free throws and Graham drilled a mid-range jumper to give BYU a 61-47 advantage midway through the final period. After Gonzales drained yet another triple, Harding added one as well to seal the 67-51 Cougar win.
BYU wraps up its Las Vegas road trip Saturday, Nov. 28, by taking on Washington at 6:30 PT in the final game of the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout. A live video stream link is available on byucougars.com.
- Shaylee Gonzales made her first six shots of the game, including three 3-pointers, and finished the first half with 17 points. She finished the night with 30 points on 11 of 14 shooting, including six of seven from distance, to go along with four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
- Gonzales scored 30 points for the second time in her career, the first coming in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament against Stanford when she dropped 32.
- Lauren Gustin, playing in her first collegiate contest, pulled down seven boards and chipped in four points in the first half. She finished with 14 rebounds, six points and three assists.
- Tegan Graham dropped seven points to go along with four rebounds and three assists in her first game as a Cougar.
- Paisley Johnson Harding added 13 points on five of 11 shooting, going three of five from three-point range.
- Maria Albiero dished out a team-best four assists while adding eight points and one rebound.
- BYU tied the eighth best three-point shooting percentage in program history (61.1%), going 11 of 18 from distance.
- The Cougars shot 50 percent from the floor and from 3-point territory in the first half. They finished the game with a 52.2 shooting percentage compared to LSU’s 35.1% (16.7 from three-point range).
- BYU out-rebounded the Tigers 28-21, tallying 23 defensive boards to LSU’s 14.
- In assists, BYU dished out 16 while LSU had 11.
- The Cougars were perfect from the free-throw line, making all eight attempts.
- BYU led throughout the entire ballgame.
BYU women open 2020-21 season at South Point Shootout
PROVO, Utah — BYU women’s basketball will open its 2020-21 campaign this weekend at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas, Nevada, taking on LSU on Friday, Nov. 27 and Washington on Saturday, Nov. 28. Both games tip off at 6:30 PST and live video stream links are available on byucougars.com.
- Head coach Jeff Judkins enters his 20th season at the helm of the BYU women’s basketball program as the winningest head coach in school history with a career record of 411-194
- The Cougars were picked to finish second in the 2020-21 West Coast Conference Preseason Poll after finishing third in the WCC regular season standings last season. BYU finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 13-5 record in WCC play and 18-11 record overall
- Two-time WCC Defensive Player of the Year Sara Hamson returns for her senior season at the center position after leading the nation in blocked shots (137) and blocked shots per game (4.72) last season. Hamson was a 2020 Naismith Women’s Basketball Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalist. She is one of 20 candidates for this year’s Lisa Leslie Award that recognizes the top center in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball
- Senior guard Paisley Johnson Harding, a 2020 WCC First Team honoree and a two-time Preseason All-WCC Team member, also returns for her senior season
- Redshirt sophomore Shaylee Gonzales returns after being named the 2018-19 Newcomer of the Year, a 2019 WCC First Team honoree and 2019 WCC Championship All-Tournament Team member
- After starting every game last year and averaging 6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest, guard Maria Albiero returns for her senior campaign
- BYU will introduce two standout transfers in Tegan Graham (four years at Colgate) and Kayla Belles-Lee (two years at Michigan State). Redshirt freshmen and Utah natives Lauren Gustin (Salem Hills HS) and Tahlia White (Mountain View HS) will vie for playing time along with redshirt freshman Kyra Beckman (Snohomish, Washington)
- The Cougars bring additional experience to their roster with junior returners Babalu Ugwu and Malli Perri as well as sophomore Kaylee Smiler
- Nikki Fargas begins her 10th season as head coach of the Tigers, compiling a 168-116 record thus far
- LSU is coming off a 20-win 2019-20 campaign, finishing seventh in the SEC regular season standings with an overall record of 20-10
- The Tigers return their 2019-20 scoring and assist leader in senior guard Khayla Pointer, who averaged 14.8 points and 4.8 assists per contest last season. Pointer was named a member of the 2020 All-SEC Second Team.
- Fellow 2020 All-SEC Second Team member and senior center Faustine Aifuwa also returns after leading the team in total rebounds (237) and blocks (63) during the 2019-20 campaign. Faustine was also named a 2020 SEC All-Defensive Team member
- Friday’s matchup will be the first ever between LSU and BYU
- Head coach Jody Wynn enters her fourth season at the helm of the Husky program, posting a 31-61 record at Washington and an overall record of 168-180 in 11 seasons as head coach
- The Huskies finished 10th in the 2019-20 Pac-12 standings after posting a 5-13 record in conference play and a 13-17 record overall
- Washington returns six players who saw game action in 2019-20. Junior forward Haley Van Dyke, who was second on the team with 8.2 points per game, is the leading returning scorer
- Seniors Khayla Rooks and Alexis Griggsby are the most veteran players on this season’s Husky team while junior center Darcy Rees, who was second on the team in 3-point shooting percentage (35.8%) last season, also returns
- Washington holds a 7-5 all-time series advantage against BYU. The two teams’ most recent matchup, which took place in Seattle during the 2017-18 season, resulted in an 80-72 Husky win
Following this weekend's games, BYU remains on the road to take on Dixie State University on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 3 p.m. MST. A live video stream will be available on the WAC Digital Network.