Defense and efficient shooting powers Cougars to 77-49 victory over Weber State

A dominant first half powered BYU women’s basketball to a 77-49 victory over the Weber State Wildcats in the Cougars’ 2023-24 home opener.

Woollston StealWoollston Steal

PROVO, Utah — A dominant first half powered BYU women’s basketball to a 77-49 victory over the Weber State Wildcats in the Cougars’ 2023-24 home opener.

"I'm really happy with the first half and not so much the second," said BYU head coach Amber Whiting. "We've got to put together a whole game. Their defense in the first half is what I see them playing like every day in practice. We've got to make sure we're better. They shot really well today and that's something I love. I see good things and things we need to work on. At this time of year, that's about right."

BYU vs. Weber State Notes and Quotes

Defensive energy set the tone early as BYU forced 10 Wildcat giveaways to create 18 points off turnovers in the opening half. BYU shot a blistering 6-for-8 from beyond the arc in the first half, finishing with eight made threes on the afternoon. Kailey Woolston paced the Cougars from three-point range, knocking down three triples as part of a career-high 16-point performance.

Lauren Gustin led the Cougars with 24 points on an efficient 10-of-13 shooting, also registering 12 rebounds to notch her first double-double of the year, the 57th of her career.

Kaylee Smiler finished as the third Cougar in double-figures with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting, going 2-for-3 from behind the loop. The senior also grabbed six rebounds and tied her career-high of four blocks. Freshman Amari Whiting added eight points, five rebounds and three steals while Emma Calvert pitched in seven points as well.

The Cougars outshot the Wildcats 56.9 to 32.7 percent from the floor. BYU outrebounded Weber State 39-20.

First Quarter

With the Cougars up 2-0, Lauren Davenport blocked a driving Wildcat and kickstarted a fast break that Whiting would cap with a layup to go up 4-0 with 8:18 to go in the opening quarter.

Whiting then scored again to make it 6-2. After a bucket from Weber State, Woolston converted on a drive to ignite a 16-4 BYU run to close the opening quarter. Defensive intensity and ball movement played a key role, freeing shooters to contribute to nine makes in the quarter’s final 10 attempts.

Woolston led the Cougars on the 16-4 run, chalking up 10 points on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting, including a 2-for-2 mark from beyond the arc as BYU closed the quarter up double figures at 22-8.

Second Quarter

After another Whiting steal, Calvert cashed in from close range to make it 24-8. Davenport then hit BYU's third triple of the day as BYU took a 27-8 advantage. Another turnover by the Wildcats led to a jumper by Gustin. Calvert then blocked a Wildcat attempt in the paint to lead to a series of quick passes which culminated in a Calvert three as the Cougars went up 32-8.

The run continued as Gustin made a driving layup and then Smiler converted on her first three-point attempt of the half to put the Cougars up 38-8 with 4:44 to go in the half.

To close the half, Rose Bubaker converted from behind the arc as Gustin added a pair of free throws and a right-side layup after Smiler threaded the needle to set up the score. The half closed with the Cougars up 45-14 on 17-of-26 shooting (65.4 percent) and a scorching 6-8 from beyond the arc. Weber State went 5-of-23 (21.7 percent).

Third Quarter

Gustin scored after collecting a rebound off her own miss to go up 48-18 with 7:38 to go in the third quarter. After a jumper and free throw from Weber State’s Kendra Parra, Woolston sliced through defenders to score off the glass to push the advantage to 50-21 with 5:54 remaining.

A three-pointer by Weber State’s Sierra Davis was answered with a driving layup by Whiting to make it 52-24. Immediately following a media timeout, Gustin freed up space in the paint to score and put the Cougars up by 30 at 54-24 with 4:42 to go in the quarter.

Both teams traded buckets over the next several minutes, with two close-range buckets from Calvert and Gustin before the Wildcats narrowed the Cougar lead to 27 on a three-pointer with 19 seconds remaining. At the end of the third quarter, BYU led 61-34.

Fourth Quarter

After Gustin scored early, the teams traded free throw attempts as the score became 64-34. A scoring drought by the Cougars and Wildcats was broken by two Wildcat free throws followed by a drive to the cup by Smiler to make it 66-36 with 6:01 remaining.

An 8-0 run by the Wildcats trimmed the lead to 66-44 before junior Heather Hamson scored to make it 68-44 with 4:38 remaining. A triple by the Wildcats was followed by a 9-2 run by the Cougars' second unit to close out the game.

BYU will remain at home, next taking on Utah Valley at 7 p.m. MT on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The game will be broadcast live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ as well as on BYU Radio 107.9, and the BYU Radio App with Jason Shepherd on the call.