Big second half propels BYU to 84-74 win over Southern Utah
CEDAR CITY, Utah — BYU women’s basketball used a 28-3 second-half run to secure an 84-74 road victory over Southern Utah Friday afternoon at America First Event Center.
"We were a little sluggish today, maybe because of finals this week as well as not playing for a while," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "But we came out and played well in the second half. There was a stretch where we played really well defensively and offensively."
The Cougars (4-1) trailed 49-41 halfway through the third quarter before finding their rhythm and jumping out to a 69-52 lead three minutes into the fourth. BYU implemented a stifling, high-trapping defense in the second half that forced nine SUU (2-2) turnovers over the final 20 minutes.
Sophomore guard Shaylee Gonzales led the Cougars with 26 points on 12 of 21 shooting while also adding five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Sophomore forward Lauren Gustin racked up 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds to notch her third double-double of the year.
Senior guard Paisley Johnson Harding also scored in double figures, tallying 15 points to go along with three assists and a steal. Fellow senior guard Maria Albiero recorded eight points, seven assists, two steals and a rebound.
As a team, BYU shot 54% from the floor and 32% from distance. The Cougars scored 21 fast-break points on the afternoon, 15 of which came in the second half.
SUU senior guard Liz (Eaton) Graves, who spent her first two collegiate seasons with BYU, led the Thunderbirds with 34 points and 10 rebounds.
Gustin and Hamson started the game off with back-to-back baskets in the paint to give BYU an early 4-0 lead. Gustin converted a three-point play after being fouled down low and Albiero drained a triple from the left wing to then put the Cougars up 10-4. An Albiero layup followed by a Tegan Graham triple and a Gonzales floater gave BYU a 17-10 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. SUU scored seven unanswered points to tie things up before the Cougars closed the quarter on a 3-0 run to take a 20-17 advantage.
Teams traded basket to open the second quarter, as back-to-back layups by Gonzales gave BYU a 24-23 lead. A Harding layup and a mid-range jumper by Gustin tied the game at 28 halfway through the second quarter. The Thunderbirds then used a 9-2 run to go up 37-30 before a pair of free throws from Tahlia White and a Kaylee Smiler triple brought the Cougars within four, 39-35, at the break.
SUU opened the first half with back-to-back baskets before a Harding baseline jumper brought the score to 43-37 for the Thunderbirds. Teams then traded baskets, as a Gustin layup and a Gonzales jumper brought the score to 49-41 for SUU. BYU proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, as Albiero drained a 3-pointer and found Gonzales for a fast-break layup to bring the Cougars within one, 49-48.
Following a Thunderbird triple, the Cougars went on an 11-0 run over the final 3:52 of the third quarter highlighted by a three-point play from Harding and fast-break layups by Gonzales and Gustin. The run, also fueled by a stifling and high-trapping Cougar defense, gave BYU a 60-52 advantage heading into the final quarter.
The Cougars carried their momentum into the fourth, as a 9-0 run fueled by back-to-back baskets from Gonzales and a Harding 3-pointer put BYU up 69-52. SUU scored its first basket in over seven minutes of play before layups by Gonzales and Malli Perri put the Cougars up 73-56 with 5:35 remaining.
After White drained a 3-pointer to extend the Cougars’ lead to 20, a 14-0 Thunderbird run cut BYU’s lead to six, 76-70, with 1:13 left in the game. The Cougars finished strong, however, as a three-point play by Harding and a fast-break layup by Gonzales put BYU up 82-70 with 32 seconds remaining. Gustin scored another fast-break layup before SUU scored a couple of baskets in the closing seconds, bringing the final score to 84-74 for the Cougars.
- Gustin paced BYU in the first half with 10 points and seven boards. She finished the contest with 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for her third double-double of the season
- Gonzales tallied eight points, two rebounds and two assists during the first 20 minutes of play. She ended the game with a team-high 26 points on 12 of 21 shooting, while adding
- Harding scored a season-high 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting to go along with three assists and a steal
- Albiero dished out a season-high seven assists while adding eight points, two steals and a rebound
- Sara Hamson notched a season-high three blocks, all in the first half, to go along with two points and a rebound
- White matched her season-high with five points coming off the bench and added one steal
- Graham, also coming off the bench, tallied four points, five rebounds and four assists
- Despite shooting 47% from the field in the first half, the Cougars made just three of their 13 3-point attempts. They finished the game with a 54% field goal percentage and shot 32% from deep
- BYU dominated down low early, scoring 18 first half points in the paint to SUU’s 12. In all, the Cougars scored 44 points in the paint while the Thunderbirds had 36
- BYU tallied 21 fast-break points to SUU’s two. The Cougars had 15 fast-break points in the first half after implementing a high-trapping defense
- In assists, BYU had 19 while the Thunderbirds had 14
- The Cougars won the rebounding battle, 30-29
- BYU had 14 bench points while SUU had 10
BYU to face Southern Utah on Friday
BYU and Southern Utah announced today a scheduled women’s basketball game between the two schools on Friday, Dec. 18, at 12 p.m. MST at the America First Event Center in Cedar City, Utah. The game will be broadcast on Pluto TV.
The Thunderbirds were originally set to host Utah Valley on Dec. 18, but following a positive COVID-19 test within the UVU program, the Cougars agreed to play SUU instead. BYU was also slated to host the Wolverines earlier this week, but the matchup was postponed to Dec. 23.
- The Cougars won both of their games last week, beating Utah State on the road 87-66 and Montana State in BYU’s home opener 72-58 to improve to 3-1 on the year
- Three players are averaging double figures in scoring for BYU: sophomore guard Shaylee Gonzales (20.0 ppg), sophomore forward Lauren Gustin (12.0) and senior guard Paisley Johnson Harding (11.8)
- Gonzales currently ranks 21st in the nation in 3-pointers made per game (3.5)
- Gustin is averaging a double double with 12.0 ppg and a team-high 11.5 rpg. The sophomore forward ranks 16th in the country in rebounds per game
- In assists, Harding and Maria Albiero lead the team with 3.0 apg
- BYU ranks 5th in the nation in free-throw percentage (85.1%) and 26th in 3-pointers made per game (9.5). The Cougars also rank 27th in the NCAA in 3-point percentage (40.0%)
- Three Cougars were selected to the 2020-21 Preseason All-WCC Team: Gonzales, senior guard Paisley Johnson Harding and senior center Sara Hamson. Harding was named to the All-WCC First Team last season while Hamson is the reigning WCC Defensive Player of the Year
ABOUT SOUTHERN UTAH
- The Thunderbirds boast a 2-1 record on the season with wins last week over William Jessup University and Grand Canyon University. SUU’s lone loss came against Utah Valley on the road
- Senior guard Liz Graves is averaging 17.7 ppg while shooting 55.6% from the field to lead the team in scoring. Graves was named the Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for her performances last week
- Senior forward Darri Frandsen leads the team in rebounds (10.3 rpg), steals (2 spg) and blocks (1.3 bpg). Frandsen is also averaging 9.7 points per game
- The Thunderbirds were picked to finish 8th in the 2020-21 Big Sky Preseason Polls. SUU finished 6th in last season’s conference standings with an 18-13 overall record (11-9 Big Sky)
- Third-year Thunderbird head coach Tracy Sanders has accumulated a 28-40 record with the program thus far
- BYU is 18-4 all-time against SUU, dating back to the two teams’ first matchup in the 1979-80 season
- The Cougars are 7-2 against the Thunderbirds when playing in Cedar City
- The two teams last played during the 2018-19 season, when SUU defeated BYU 67-64 in the Marriott Center
BYU will return to the Marriott Center on Dec. 23 to face Utah Valley at 12 p.m. MST. The two teams were originally scheduled to play on Dec. 15, but the game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Wolverine program. The contest will be broadcast live on BYUtv and on the BYUtv App.