PROVO, Utah — BYU women’s basketball suffered a 69-59 loss to Santa Clara at the Marriott Center on Saturday afternoon, snapping a seven-game winning streak.
“Credit to Santa Clara, they came in here, did their job and played really well together,” BYU head coach Amber Whiting said. “They are a tough guard for us. They have a lot of good players, pass the ball really well and they hit shots. We need to learn from this loss and get back to work on Monday.”
The Broncos (13-9, 4-5) went 10-for-21 (.476) from behind the arc, 15-for 17 from the free throw line and assisted on 16-of-22 made field goals on the night.
BYU (11-9, 6-3) had three Cougars score in double-figures as Nani Falatea, Lauren Gustin and Kaylee Smiler combined for 47 of the 59 points.
Falatea finished with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting to notch her second-straight 20-point game and third of the season. The sophomore standout also recorded six boards, three assists and two steals.
Gustin recorded her 19th double-double in 20 games this season in the loss. The junior finished with 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting, 15 rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Smiler scored in double figures for the sixth time this season as she finished with 13 points on a 3-for-6 clip, going 2-for-3 from deep.
Emma Calvert opened the scoring with a top-of-the-key three before finding Gustin on the Cougars second possession to take an early 5-0 lead.
Arielle Mackey-Williams knocked down BYU’s second triple in transition to go up 8-0 before Santa Clara got on the board with a three of their its own.
Mackey-Williams found Gustin on the roll for two to take a 10-3 lead with 6:57 left In the opening quarter. The Broncos responded by hitting three-straight triples to go up 12-10.
After the media timeout, Falatea and Gustin connected on consecutive possessions to retake the lead, 14-12.
BYU trailed 20-16 at the end of the first with Santa Clara scoring 18-of-20 points via three-point field goals, going 6-for-9 in the opening quarter. In contrast, the Cougars scored eight of their 14 points in the paint, all from Gustin.
Falatea hit back-to-back triples for BYU to knot the score at 24 with 8:03 left in the half. After trading buckets with Santa Clara, Falatea again stepped into a three to give the Cougars the lead 31-28.
Another score from Gustin off an assist from Amanda Barcello followed by a Smiler three gave BYU a 36-35 advantage at the half.
The Cougars were held scoreless through the first four minutes of the third quarter, in which time the Broncos went on a 14-0 run.
The run was ended by a Smiler corner three before Mackey-Williams found Heather Hamson for her first points of the night to draw within eight.
After a Santa Clara timeout, Hamson found Gustin in a high-low action to cut the Bronco lead to seven with just under a minute to play, but Santa Clara knocked down two free throws to take a 52-43 lead into the final ten minutes.
Falatea opened the fourth with a driving right-handed scoop to again draw within seven. Three consecutive defensive stops and a free-throw from Smiler made it a two-possession game for the first time since the 8:57 mark of the third quarter.
Three-straight scores for Santa Clara bumped the lead back to 12 with 5:13 to play, but an old-fashioned three-point play for Falatea trimmed the lead to nine.
Despite attempts to cut into the Bronco lead, Santa Clara went 9-for-9 from the charity stripe in the last four minutes to seal a 69-59 win over BYU.
The Cougars will next take the court as they travel to Moraga to take on the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Thursday, January 26th at 6:30 p.m PT. The game will be streamed on the WCC Network.