LINCOLN, Neb. — No. 12 seed BYU women’s basketball fell 70-51 to No. 1 seed Connecticut Saturday afternoon in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“I’m really proud of my team,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “I thought we really came out tonight with a lot of heart and energy. We played some of our best basketball. Sometimes in a game like this it comes down to being physical. We just didn’t play that sharp in the second half. I’m really proud of this team and its effort.”
BYU (28-7) led Connecticut (37-0) in 3-point shooting, 30 to 16 percent. The Huskies outshot the Cougars by just two percent, 39-37.
Kim Beeston led BYU with 16 points, including going 4 for 8 from downtown. Jennifer Hamson had 9 points and a team-leading 13 rebounds to go along with all of the team’s six blocks. Morgan Bailey was the only other Cougar to score in double figures, getting 14 to go along with seven boards. Kylie Maeda had a team-high four assists.
The Cougars took a 3-2 lead after Bailey hit a 3-pointer to give BYU its first points of the game. She hit her second 3-pointer of the game to tie things up at 8-8 at the first timeout.
Beeston hit her first 3-pointer of the game to put the Cougars back up 13-12 with under 11 minutes left to play in the first half.
Hamson followed three points from UConn with four-straight points of her own to bring the score to 17-15, BYU.
BYU led by as many as six points in the first half after Beeston made a jumper, giving her a game-high 13 points on 3 for 4 shooting from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. It was the second-largest deficit Connecticut has faced this season.
The Cougars trailed by just one point at halftime, 30-29, making the score the closest it’s been all season at the break for the Huskies.
Lexi Eaton scored BYU’s first six points coming out of the break to help the Cougars go back up 35-34. UConn quickly followed with a 10-2 run to go up 44-37, which forced coach Judkins to call a timeout.
The Huskies led by as many as 11 before Hamson collected an offensive board and hit the put-back layup. Beeston followed that make with another 3-pointer to cut the UConn lead to six at 52-46.
Fouls were an issue for BYU in the second half. The Cougars led in fouls 8-2 with under six minutes left in the game as the Huskies took a 67-48 advantage.
UConn continued with its double-digit lead throughout the rest of the game as the Huskies came out with a 70-51 victory.
During the game the score was tied four times and the lead changed 12 different times, all within the first 24 minutes of game time.
The loss ends the BYU women’s basketball season at 28 wins, most in program history. In addition, the Cougars advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for just the second time. BYU loses two seniors to the 2014-15 roster, starters Kim Beeston and Jennifer Hamson.