SANTA CLARA – BYU used a 33-point fourth quarter to come back and beat Santa Clara 78-72 on the road Thursday night at the Leavey Center.
Trailing 49-45, the Cougars (14-12, 9-6) outscored the Broncos 33-23 in the fourth quarter. The 33 points are the most BYU has scored in a single quarter this season. BYU got 25 points from its two top scorers in the final 10 minutes––13 from Lauren Gustin and 12 from Nani Falatea.
“I’m so proud of how the girls fought tonight,” BYU head coach Amber Whiting said. “Every time they took a punch they punched right back harder and I’m really happy with how we were able to finish that game.”
Gustin tied her career high with 30 points to go along with 16 rebounds, her 24th double-double of the year. The 30 points for Gustin pushed her over 1,000 career points. Now with 1,022 career points, she is tied with her mother, Scarlett Overly (played at BYU 1987-89) for No. 31 in school history.
Gustin, the nation’s leading rebounder, also became just the second BYU women’s player to notch 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, behind Cougar Hall of Famer Tina Gunn Robison. The Salem, Utah, product also tied the West Coast Conference record for most rebounds in a single season at 427.
Falatea scored 19 points and dished out a game-high six assists. Kaylee Smiler also added 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Arielle Mackey-Williams chipped in eight points, four assists and three steals.
BYU shot 50 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from behind the arc while limiting the Broncos to 42.3 percent overall and only 22.2 percent from distance. The Cougars dominated the paint with a 40-26 advantage and outrebounded Santa Clara 34-26. BYU also blocked eight shots to just one from the Broncos.
After BYU fell behind early, Gustin hit a turnaround jumper off the glass for BYU’s first points and tacked on two more makes to trim the lead to 8-6 with 4:36 to go in the first quarter.
The Broncos put together a 7-0 run before the Cougars put a stop to it in the last few seconds with another Gustin layup to end the quarter at 15-10.
Trailing by as many as nine, BYU made it a three-point game after holding the Broncos scoreless for three minutes. The Cougars chipped away to make it 28-25 with 2:27 to go.
Mackey-Williams tied it up with a trey from the corner to make it 30-30 and Falatea banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer, sending BYU into halftime with a 33-30 lead.
After trading buckets, BYU went on a 6-0 run to stay in front 43-37 midway through the third quarter.
Santa Clara answered back with a 9-0 run however, going back in front 46-43 with 1:44 to go in the third. The Broncos held on to a 49-45 lead going into the final frame.
Amanda Barcello got BYU back in the lead with a wide-open three at the top of the arc for a 54-53 edge with eight minutes to go. Falatea hit a trey on a second-chance opportunity for a 59-55 lead just over one minute later.
Smiler added another triple with 4:36 to go, giving the Cougars their biggest lead of the game at 64-55. Santa Clara quickly answered with a 6-0 run in 52 seconds to make a one possession game with 3:18 remaining.
Gustin got back-to-back layups to stretch the edge to 68-61 with one minute to go. Despite trading free throws and some made shots from the Broncos, BYU held on to win it 78-72.
BYU plays on the road at San Francisco on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. PST at War Memorial Gymnasium. The game will be on the WCC Network and televised locally in the San Francisco region on NBC Sports Bay Area.