Villanova upsets BYU 61-57 in first round


ANN ARBOR, Michigan – No. 11 seed Villanova made just a few more plays and hung on to beat No. 6 seed BYU 61-57 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.

Senior Paisley Harding was the top scorer for BYU in her final game as a Cougar with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists. Fellow senior Tegan Graham had 11 points and eight rebounds in her final game as a Cougar. 

The Cougars (26-4) led by one point at halftime but a 15-11 advantage for Villanova (24-8) in the third quarter proved to be just enough to stay in control the rest of the way.

"We need to give credit to Villanova and their defense," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "They turned us over and made things hard for us. I am still so proud of this team and how competitive they've been all year. They did so many things this year that had never been done. They've been so much fun to coach and I am proud of everything they have done."

BYU won more games in the regular season than any other Cougar team in history with 25. The team also set a new attendance record in its final game for women's basketball at the Marriott Center and finished the season ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 after being ranked for 16 consecutive weeks–the most in program history. 

Box Score

First Quarter
Senior Maria Albiero started the scoring off for the Cougars with a three-pointer in the first minute of play. Graham followed close behind with a second-chance three off a Villanova turnover. 

BYU stayed hot with two more quick baskets from Lauren Gustin and Albiero, going up on the Wildcats 10-2 in the first four minutes. Drawing a foul, Harding notched a three-point play to top-off a 7-0 run for the Cougars. 

After four BYU turnovers, Villanova answered back with a 6-0 run over the Cougars to close the gap to 15-11 with two minutes left in the first quarter. With a Sara Hamson block, BYU went into the second quarter ahead 17-14. 

Second Quarter
Villanova scored first in the second quarter, passing BYU for the first time since the start of the game. With two more turnovers, the Cougars and Wildcats were tied 22-22 five minutes into the second quarter. 

Shaylee Gonzales notched her first basket with a step-back jumper in the second quarter. The Wildcats answered back with a three-pointer to go up on the Cougars 27-24. After drawing another foul, Harding went 2 of 2 from the charity stripe to take back the lead 28-27. 

After a competitive first half, the Cougars went to the locker room ahead of the Wildcats by one with a score of 30-29. Harding finished the first half as the top scorer for BYU with 14 points and three rebounds. 

The Cougars finished the first half shooting 39 percent from the field, 25 percent from the three-point line and 75 percent from the free-throw line. The Wildcats finished the first half shooting 33 percent from the field, 20 percent from the three and 100 percent from the free-throw line.  

Third Quarter
Villanova took a quick lead in the third quarter, going up 34-30. After a hot start from the Wildcats, BYU put on the pressure. Gonzales knocked down a three to take back the narrow lead of 35-34 over the Wildcats. 

Graham hit a three from the top of the arc and Gonzales made a layup off a steal to put the Cougars up 40-36. Villanova went on a 7-0 run over the Cougars, taking the lead 44-41 to end the third quarter. 

Fourth Quarter
The Wildcats scored quickly in the final quarter, going up 46-41. Harding hit a three and Gustin made a layup assisted by Gonzales to tie the game up within the same minute. 

Villanova grabbed some momentum going on a 6-0 run over BYU to again take the lead with a score of 55-48. After a long scoring drought, Harding made a layup to put the game within five points. 

Graham knocked down a three from the top of the arc, forcing a Villanova timeout to close the gap down to 56-55 with two minutes left in the game. Going into the final minute of regulation, the Wildcats were up 58-55. With a Gustin steal and a Hamson layup, the Cougars brought the game within one point.  

After an Albiero foul, the Wildcats went two of two from the charity stripe, putting them ahead 60-57 with 16 seconds left. Unable to make a shooting play in the final seconds, Villanova took the 61-57 win over the Cougars to move into the second round of the NCAA tournament.