BYU wins St. Pete Showcase with 58-57 victory over No. 22 West Virginia


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The BYU women’s basketball team came back from down 13 points to knock off No. 22 West Virginia 58-57 and win the St. Pete Showcase and remain undefeated.

“I am so impressed with the grit and toughness of this group,” assistant coach Lee Cummard said. “Their belief in the game plan and in each other never wavered throughout. It was a total team effort this week and the outcomes showed it."

The Cougars (7-0) used a late 7-0 run, capped by a Paisley Harding three-pointer with under three minutes to play to get back in front before a back-and-forth final few minutes had the game tied 56-56 with 12.7 seconds left. Shaylee Gonzales drove to the basket and got fouled on the way up with 3.1 seconds remaining in the game.

Gonzales sank both free throws and after a foul on the other end, West Virginia (4-1) wasn’t so fortunate, making just 1 of 2 with 0.4 seconds left and BYU held on to win 58-57, picking up its second straight victory against a ranked opponent.

Gonzales, named the St. Pete Showcase MVP, finished with 20 points, six rebounds, two assists and went 6 of 6 from the charity stripe. She had 24 points and five steals in the Cougars’ win over No. 17 Florida State on Thursday.

"Shaylee was unbelievable, Cummard said. "Her effort is always off the charts. She’s proven time in and time out that she loves the big moment and isn’t afraid of it. Get her the ball and get out of the way."

Harding added 13 points and three steals while Tegan Graham posted 11 points. Maria Albiero added five assists to lead the team and one steal. 

"The unsung hero of this tourney was Maria (Albiero)," Cummard said. "She has poise and ability to run this team and help keep everyone calm and locked in. Her defense never goes unnoticed to our staff. I am glad she is on our team."

BYU shot 47.7 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from downtown. The Mountaineers managed 40.1 percent overall and just 28.6 percent from behind the arc. West Virginia outrebounded the Cougars 34 to 26 but BYU countered with efficiency from the free-throw line, making 9 of 11 freebies to the Mountaineers 9 on 15 chances. 


First half
Graham hit back-to-back threes early in the first quarter to give BYU a 9-6 lead with just under eight minutes left.

BYU suffered from a near seven-minute scoreless drought before Maria Albiero scored a layup to end a 13-0 West Virginia run. The Cougars trailed 21-11 at the end of the first.

Two straight buckets from Harding and Lauren Gustin pulled BYU to 23-15 with 7:47 left until halftime.

Trailing 34-26, freshman Emma Calvert knocked down a three to make it 34-29 with 1:45 to go until the break. BYU went into halftime down 37-29. Graham led all scorers with 11 points, including three treys.

Second half
Gonzales hit back-to-back threes after snagging an offensive rebound to trim West Virginia’s edge down to 39-35 with 7:39 left in the third quarter. Harding added back-to-back twos and BYU tied things up just over a minute later.

Harding scored off an inbounds play to retake the lead 43-42 with 2:50 to go in the third. Gustin added another jumper on the next possession to go up 45-42.

West Virginia got hot in the third quarter, connecting on three field goals in a row, including two triples and retook the lead at 52-47 with under six minutes remaining in the game.

BYU battled back with a 7-0 run, including a Harding three to go back in front 54-52 with 2:33 to go.

West Virginia tied it up at 56-56 with under one minute to play. After a turnover on BYU’s end, the Cougar defense held to get the ball back with 12.7seconds left in the game.  

Gonzales drove to the basket and was fouled with 3.1 seconds left to send her to the free throw line where she made both to put BYU ahead 58-56.

On the defensive end, West Virginia got the ball inside the paint to Kari Niblack and drew a foul with 0.4 seconds left. Niblack made the first but the second free throw rolled around and off the rim and not enough time was left for anything else as BYU upset the No. 22 Mountaineers 58-57.

Next up, BYU plays in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah in an in-state rivalry game on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.