Brigham Young University
Mar 22 | 11:00 AM
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Rutgers, State Univ of New Jersey, New Brunswick
Cameron Muh | Posted: 22 Mar 2021 | Updated: 29 Sep 2021
Cameron Muh

Harding leads BYU to NCAA Tournament First Round upset over Rutgers, 69-66

Paisley Johnson-Harding drives against Rutgers defender

BYU Photo Exposure Gallery

SAN MARCOS, Texas — Led by Paisley Johnson Harding's team-high 28 points, No. 11 seed BYU women's basketball upset No. 6 seed Rutgers 69-66 in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament at Strahan Arena on Monday. 

"First of all, I want to congratulate Rutgers," said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. "They have a really good team. I think that's the best team we played all year. They are very well coached and very disciplined in what they do. Today the ball bounced our way, especially at the end. I think that's what basketball is so much about, especially in the NCAA Tournament. The ball can bounce your way and make some big differences. You probably notice in the whole Tournament, when the top seed has a game close in the end, it's a lot more pressure on them, more than the underdog and I think that's what happened a little bit today."

BYU vs. Rutgers Final Box Score

The Cougars (19-5, 13-3) had three different players finish in double figures, including Harding with 28 points and five rebounds. Shaylee Gonzales added 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Lauren Gustin contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds for her 15th double-double of the season. Tegan Graham added nine points, going 3 of 4 from deep. 

BYU shot 37% from the field, 39% from 3-point range and 87% from the free throw line to Rutgers’ (14-5, 10-3) 47% from the field, 42% from beyond the arc and 74% from the free throw line. Down seven after three, the Cougars erupted for 26 points in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

Harding got things started for the Cougars, knocking down a corner trey to put BYU up 3-1. After two Shaylee Gonzales free throws, a three-point play by Harding and a short Lauren Gustin jumper, the Cougars led 10-9. 

Rutgers took a 16-11 lead early in the second quarter before BYU fought back as Gonzales hit a baseline jumper, knocked down two free throws, and Harding banked in a three, tying it up at 18-all. 

The Cougars took the lead back on another baseline jumper by Gonzales, extending it on two free throws and a layup by Harding, but the Scarlet Knights closed the half on a 10-0 run to take a lead 30-24 at the half.

BYU shot 32% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc to Rutgers’ 48% from the field and 20% from deep in the first half. Harding led the way with 14 first half points, with Gonzales adding eight points of her own. 

The Cougars opened the second half with Gonzales draining a trey and Hamson getting on the board with a put-back layup, but the Scarlet Knights had an answer for each basket.

Harding and Tegan Graham both knocked down 3-pointers and Harding scored on a reverse layup to then come within six, at 43-37, but a 6-0 Rutgers run stretched the Cougars' deficit to 12. 

Graham then hit a triple and Kaylee Smiler swished a 3, making it a seven-point game going into the fourth quarter. A put-back layup by Gustin, a three-point play and trey by Harding then had the Cougars within three, 54-51, forcing a Scarlet Knight timeout.

After two Harding free throws, BYU took the lead on a Gustin layup, going ahead 55-54. A pair of free throws by Gustin capped a 12-0 Cougar run and a Gustin layup had BYU ahead 59-58 with two minutes remaining.

The Cougars took a four-point lead on a transition triple by Graham. Rutgers answered with a trey of their own, but Gonzales knocked down three free throws after getting fouled on a corner 3-point shot attempt to go ahead 65-61. 

Two Gonzales free throws, a defensive stop, and one more Gonzales free throw all but sealed it, but the Scarlet Knights hit a 3-pointer to make it 68-66, BYU, with 3.8 seconds remaining. 

After one Johnson Harding free throw, the Cougars, with two fouls to give, fouled with 1.3 seconds left. Coming out of a timeout, Rutgers couldn’t get a shot off on time, and BYU held on to win 69-66. 

With the win, the Cougars advance to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament and now await the winner of No. 14 seed Stony Brook and No. 3 seed Arizona. The game will be played on Wednesday, March 24. Tip-off time will be announced at a later time. 

Player Notes

  • Harding led all scorers at the break with 14 points. She finished the game with a team-high 28 points on 8 of 17 shooting, including 4 of 9 from distance. Harding also shot 8 of 10 from the charity stripe. Harding's 28 points tied her season-high and marked her fifth 20-plus point game of the season
  • Gonzales contributed 17 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Gonzales iced the game down the stretch by making 6 of her 7 fourth-quarter free-throw attempts. She shot 10 of 11 from the charity stripe on the game
  • Gustin tallied her 15th double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and pulling down 11 rebounds
  • Graham scored nine points in 31 minutes off the bench, going 3 of 4 from 3-point territory
  • Smiler hit her only shot attempt of the contest, a timely 3-pointer, to fuel BYU in 13 minutes off the bench
  • Hamson added three rebounds, one block and two points for the Cougars

Game Notes

  • BYU shot 37% from the floor, 39% from distance and 87% from the free-throw line. Rutgers went 47% from the floor, 42% from three and 74% from the charity stripe
  • The Cougars dished out 14 assists to the Scarlet Knights’ nine
  • BYU scored 12 fast break points compared to Rutgers’ 10 and had 12 bench points to the Scarlet Knights’ six
  • The Cougars won the turnover battle, 19-20, and had 22 points off turnovers while Rutgers had 13
  • The Scarlet Knights had 13 steals to BYU’s seven and out-rebounded the Cougars, 33-30
  • With the win, BYU has now advanced past the First Round of the NCAA Tournament five times and is 7-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament games
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Josh Carter | Posted: 19 Mar 2021 | Updated: 23 Mar 2021
Josh Carter

BYU takes on Rutgers in NCAA First Round

20-21wBKB vs Gonzaga 0581.jpg

SAN ANTONIO — No. 11 seed BYU women’s basketball takes on No. 6 seed Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday, March 22, at 11 a.m. CDT at Strahan Arena in San Marcos, Texas. The contest will be broadcast live on ESPNU and radio broadcasts will be available on BYU Radio 107.9 FM, and the BYU Cougars App.

BYU vs. Rutgers Game Notes

Rutgers Game Notes

NCAA Tournament Digital Program

ABOUT NO. 11 BYU (18-5, 13-3)

  • The Cougars are 6-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament games, including 6-9 under head coach Jeff Judkins. BYU’s most recent tournament appearance was in 2019, when the team earned a No. 7 seed and beat No. 10 Auburn in the first round before losing to No. 2 Stanford
  • This is BYU’s 14th NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth time earning a No. 11 seed.
  • The Cougars earned an at-large bid to this season’s tournament after finishing second in the regular season standings and advancing to the West Coast Conference Tournament title game
  • 2020-21 WCC Co-Player of the Year Shaylee Gonzales finished the season as the WCC’s second-leading scorer and leads the team in points (17.9 ppg), assists (3.7 apg) and steals (2.4 spg)
  • Following Gonzales, fellow 2020-21 All-WCC First Team members Paisley Johnson Harding (14.0 ppg) and Lauren Gustin (11.5 ppg) round out BYU’s top-three scorers
  • Gustin ranks fifth in the nation in rebounds per game (12.8 rpg) and has racked up 14 double-doubles on the season, good for 13th in the country. She was named AP All-America Honorable Mention on Wednesday
  • Sara Hamson, a 2020-21 All-WCC Honorable Mention, is averaging a league best 2.6 blocks per game, good for 17th in the nation
  • Fellow 2020-21 All-WCC Honorable Mention honoree Tegan Graham is averaging 8.1 points per contest off the bench
  • BYU head coach Jeff Judkins, the 2020-21 WCC Coach of the Year, has a 429-199 record in 20 seasons at the helm of the program. Judkins played in the NBA from 1978-1983 and was an assistant coach under Rick Majerus at the University of Utah from 1989-1999 before taking over the Cougar program in 2001 
  • As a team, BYU enters the NCAA Tournament ranked 21st in the country in field-goal percentage defense (.355) and 21st in assists per game (16.6 apg)

ABOUT NO. 6 RUTGERS (14-4, 10-3)

  • Rutgers earned an at-large bid to this year’s tournament after finishing the Big Ten regular season standings in third place, behind No. 7 ranked Maryland and No. 12 Indiana
  • This is the Scarlet Knights’ 26th NCAA Tournament appearance. Rutgers has reached the Final Four twice and was the national runner-up in 2007
  • Senior guard Arella Guirantes (20.8 ppg) and freshman guard Diamond Johnson (17.9 ppg) pace the Scarlet Knights in scoring
  • Guirantes also leads Rutgers in assists (5.3 apg) and blocks (1.9 bpg)
  • In rebounds, sophomore forward Tyia Singleton leads the team with 6.8 per game
  • As a team, the Scarlet Knights rank fourth in the nation in steals per game (12.6 spg) and eighth in scoring margin (18.5). Rutgers also ranks 13th in the country in blocks per game (5.5 bpg) and field-goal percentage (.467)
  • Senior forward Tekia Mack ranks ninth in the nation in steals per game (3.1 spg) while averaging 10.9 points per contest
  • Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer has accumulated a 535-290 record in 25 seasons with the Scarlet Knights. She has a 1,055-425 career record in 49 seasons of coaching and is a Naismith and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee


  • BYU and Rutgers have never before met in women’s basketball


  • TV Talent: Kevin Fitzgerald (play-by-play), Christy Thomaskutty (analyst)
  • Radio: BYU Radio 107.9 FM
  • Streamed Audio: BYU Cougars App,
  • Radio Talent: Jason Shepherd (play-by-play), Kristen Kozlowski (analyst)
  • Live Stats: