PROVO, Utah – BYU women’s basketball rode a dominant 41-point first half on the way to a 78-36 win over Saint Mary’s at the Marriott Center Thursday night.
"This team, they just know how to win," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We didn't play as well as we could have offensively, but our defense is what did it for us tonight."
Four Cougars scored in double figures, led by Paisley Harding with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Lauren Gustin collected another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Shaylee Gonzales and Tegan Graham scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, with Graham shooting three-of-six from deep to go along with seven assists.
BYU (13-1, 3-0) shot 40 percent from the field while holding the Gaels (7-6, 1-1) to 28 percent for the night. The Cougars outrebounded Saint Mary’s 57-34, including 24-6 on the offensive glass. BYU shared the ball to the tune of 22 assists on 32 field goals with just 10 turnovers. The Cougars played suffocating defense, forcing 25 Saint Mary’s turnovers and allowing just eight assists.
BYU burst out to a 10-3 lead as it forced turnovers on three straight Saint Mary’s possessions and hustled for rebounds on the offensive end. Two offensive boards in one trip down the floor resulted in Harding finishing at the rim for a basket that helped the Cougars seize control early.
Harding would score on two straight possessions with a steal and trip to the tin for two followed by a give-and-go pass from Graham. Moments later, Graham would dial up one of her three 3-pointers to extend BYU’s lead to 19-5.
The Cougars assisted seven times on their first nine field goals while forcing nine first-quarter turnovers from the Gaels.
Gonzales, Gustin and Graham continued finding the bottom of the net in the second quarter as BYU extended its lead to 41-7 before Saint Mary’s scored on a three-point play to reach double figures at halftime.
BYU’s offense stalled during a 10-2 Saint Mary’s run to begin the second half. The Cougars responded quickly out of a timeout with an 8-0 run.
Harding jump-started the offense with a mid-range jumper, followed shortly by a Gustin put-back and Gonzales reverse lay-in.
Sara Hamson came off the bench and built a barricade around the basket with four blocks, including a crowd-rousing stuff that led to a Harding score in transition. Hamson also grabbed seven rebounds for the game to go with six second-half points.
With a game-high lead of 46 in the fourth quarter, BYU seized the opportunity to further develop its depth. Rose Bubakar, Emma Calvert, Kate Vorwaller and Arielle Mackey-Williams each came off the bench late for valuable minutes.
BYU takes to the road for its next three games, beginning with a matchup against Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles on Saturday at 2 p.m. PT. Tune-in to the Cougars' matchup with the Lions on the WCC Network.