LOS ANGELES – A stingy defense led the No. 18 BYU women’s basketball team to a 77-37 win at Loyola Marymount on Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars (14-1, 4-0) held LMU (5-8, 0-3) to just 30.6 percent from the field and forced a season-high 31 turnovers. BYU's squad has held back-to-back opponents to under 40 points and kept teams in single digits in six of the last eight quarters.
"I am very happy with what we are doing," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We haven't shot the ball as well as we can but what is nice about this team is I can go a lot of different ways. I can go aggressive like we did at the start. Or we can go bigger and it makes it challenging for the other team any way we can go."
Four players recorded multiple steals, led by Shaylee Gonzales with five and Maria Albiero with three. Gonzales also led the scoring with 19 points, adding five boards and five assists. The sophomore shot an efficient 7 of 9 from the field.
BYU followed its pattern of success for most of the year with Paisley Harding and Lauren Gustin adding double-digit scoring again with 14 points apiece. The Cougars also got eight points from Sara Hamson along with her four blocks.
"I think we did a good job on our rotations and we used our size to our advantage," Judkins said. "When Sara [Hamson] came in she changes the game for us. She has really been playing well the last few games. It has helped out our defense a lot."
Both teams had slow starts when BYU started the game on a 6-0 run before LMU finally got its first bucket with six minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Cougars’ offense picked up in the last minute of the quarter with a 12-3 run, highlighted by a trey from Nani Falatea followed up a drive to the basket for another two. Harding drained another triple on the next possession, making it 26-12 at the end of the first.
Midway through the second, Gustin went to work on the glass, tapping in another offensive rebound, pushing BYU’s lead to 38-16 with 4:31 until halftime. She finished with seven boards.
Gonzales and Hamson added back-to-back buckets for the Cougars to hold a 44-21 lead at the break. Gonzales led all scorers with 15 at the break on 6 of 7 shooting.
A slower pace hit the third quarter until Tegan Graham got her first basket of the game with just over one minute left, giving BYU a 60-28 lead.
Harding added another layup at the third-quarter buzzer and BYU went into the final frame up 64-28. The Cougar defense stymied the Lions, allowing just seven points in the quarter after only nine in the second.
The future of the BYU program played for most of the fourth quarter, with freshmen Emma Calvert, Rose Bubakar, Arielle Mackey-Williams, Kate Vorwaller and Devry Millett getting almost all of the minutes.
The Cougar defense held LMU to just nine points in the fourth quarter while Vorwaller and Calvert added six and five points, respectively, and BYU cruised to a 77-37 victory.
BYU plays on the road against Pepperdine on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. PT at the Firestone Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast on the WCC Network.