LAS VEGAS – BYU women’s basketball got 23 points apiece from sophomore guard Nani Falatea and junior forward Lauren Gustin to fuel a 74-59 win over Pepperdine to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2023 University Credit U West Coast Conference Tournament on Friday afternoon at the Orleans Arena.
"I feel like they are coming together at the right time," BYU head coach Amber Whiting said. "They are learning about each other and really buying into the defensive game plans that we are setting forward and they are doing pretty well."
Falatea posted 23 points and seven assists while Gustin continued to be a force on the boards with 18 rebounds to go along with her 23 points. It was her 26th double-double of the season. The 18 boards tied the WCC record for rebounds in a tournament game.
BYU was in control for most of the game, building leads throughout every quarter, putting the game further out of reach out of halftime with a 24-point third quarter.
The Cougars shot 48.3 percent from the field while holding Pepperdine to 42.1 percent, including a 3 for 12 mark from distance. BYU also got 13 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals from Arielle Mackey-Williams while Emma Calvert chipped in seven points and four rebounds.
BYU got its first lead after a make from Gustin on the baseline and a steal and score right away by Mackey-Williams for two more to make it 6-4 in the first two minutes of the game. Mackey-Williams added her first trey of the game inside of four minutes to go in the first quarter for an 11-8 edge.
Falatea hit a buzzer-beater step-back triple at the end of the first quarter to give BYU a 16-10 lead. Falatea had seven points in the quarter to lead all scorers.
BYU got on an 8-2 run to start the second quarter, capped off by an easy Gustin two thanks to a pass into the post by Mackey-Wiliams for a 24-12 advantage to double up the Waves.
After a 6-1 run from Pepperdine, Falatea answered with a three from the corner after an offensive board from Heather Hamson to keep the possession alive and fuel a 28-18 advantage.
BYU took a 34-27 lead into halftime, despite both Gustin and Falatea having two fouls apiece and Calvert on the bench with three. Falatea led all scorers with 12 points, the fifth time in seven games Falatea had double digits before halftime.
The Cougars shot 50 percent from the field in the first half while holding the Waves to just 37.9 percent and 1 of 7 from the 3-point line.
BYU kept the pressure on to start the second half, pushing the lead to 45-36 with 4:48 to go in the third quarter. Kaylee Smiler drained a 3-pointer after a Pepperdine timeout to make it 48-36.
A 13-2 run over three minutes pushed the Cougar lead to 56-38 with just under two minutes left until the final frame. Falatea made it an even 20-points with another score inside of one minute.
Pepperdine continued to hang around with a 7-3 run to start the fourth quarter, trimming BYU’s lead to 61-47 at the 7:13 mark.
The Waves tried a full-court press to try to chip away at the deficit and make it a single-digit lead at one time but came away empty-handed in the end as the Cougars stayed in control for and won it 74-59 to advance.
BYU will play No. 4 seed San Francisco on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT at the Orleans Arena. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and the WCC Network.