PROVO, Utah—Behind the efforts of senior Lexi Eaton Rydalch, BYU defeated in-state rival Utah 73-59 in Provo Saturday afternoon and captured the women's basketball Deseret Duel trophy for the sixth time in the last seven years.
"I thought we played a pretty good game tonight," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We started the game out well, but then we struggled a little bit and lost our momentum. To see my team bounce back was really nice."
Rydalch led all scorers with 29 points. Kalani Purcell had nine points and a team-high 12 rebounds, and Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher had nine points as well. Cassie Broadhead added eight points off the bench, and Amanda Wayment had four points and seven rebounds. BYU (8-3) shot 42 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arch.
Purcell got the first jumper of the game from the free-throw line, but Utah (5-3) responded with a three-point play. Rydalch’s 3-pointer from the left corner and layup put the Cougars back up 7-3. She added another layup to put the Cougars up by six with seven minutes to go in the first period. Purcell and Wayment added back-to-back layups to give BYU a 16-7 lead with 4:45 to play in the first period.
Rydalch added another 3 from the left side to put the Cougars up 19-7, but Utah’s Joeseta Fatuesi added a layup to decrease their deficit to 10. Pulsipher and Kylie Maeda kept the offensive efforts going for BYU, stretching the lead to 13 and Rydalch’s 3-pointer with 1:15 to go made the score 27-13. Purcell’s layup with 17 seconds was the last of the offensive efforts in the first period, giving the Cougars a 29-14 advantage.
The Utes opened up the second period with back-to-back layups from Emily Potter, making it 31-18. Potter kept the Utes offense rolling during the Cougars’ five-minute scoring drought, and Katie Kuklok hit a 3-pointer to make it 31-25 with six minutes to play in the second period. Rydalch’s 3-pointer from the top of the key ended the scoring drought with four minutes to play, giving BYU a 34-26 advantage. She also had a steal with three minutes to go, giving Broadhead a two-point opportunity.
Utah brought the game within six with two minutes to play, but Purcell and Maeda both hit layups to give the Cougars a double-digit lead. Potter hit one of her free throws with a second left in the first half, making it 40-31 for the Cougars.
Utah got the opening basket of the third period, but Rydalch responded with a jumper on the other end to keep the nine-point lead. Pulsipher and Jasmine Moody added baskets to take a 46-33 lead with seven minutes to play. Pulsipher tacked on two free throws before the Utes responded with a layup to end their three-minute scoring drought. Rydalch stole the ball and went coast-to-coast with a layup to put BYU up 52-35 with five minutes to play in the third period.
Rydalch’s jumper with four minutes to go were the only points the Cougars scored for a minute and a half until she stole the ball and put away a layup, giving BYU a 56-37 lead. The Utes went on a three-minute scoring drought again. Rydalch took a deep pass from Pulsipher to the hoop to give BYU a 59-38 lead with 25 seconds to play. Utah responded with four straight points to end the period down 59-42.
Pulsipher’s jumper from the left side ended a scoreless three minutes to open the fourth period, putting the Cougars up 61-42. Utah converted a few free throws, bringing the score within 15. Broadhead hit a jumper from the right to put the Cougars up by 17, but Utah responded with eight straight points to bring the lead down to nine. Broadhead hit another jumper with 2:45 left in the first half to put the Cougars back up by 11, 65-53. Pulsipher hit a 3-pointer from the left side as time expired on the shot clock to extend the lead to 68-55 with 1:55 to play. Utah hit a 3-pointer to bring the game within 10 with one minute to play, but BYU went 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the last minute to close out the game 73-59.
The win gives BYU three vistories in four events over in-state rival Utah this fall. The Cougars lead the 2015-16 Deseret Duel 9-5. The next event in the Deseret Duel series is women's gymnastics, scheduled for Jan. 8 in Salt Lake City. Click HERE for more information about the Deseret Duel. The Cougars will be off the next week, and will play open up West Coast Conference play on December 23 at the University of San Diego at 1:00 p.m. PST. Live stats for the game can be found on the BYU women's basketball page, http://byucougars.com/schedule/w-basketball
With the 73-59 victory over Utah, BYU now improves to 8-3 on the season in their final game of non-conference play. The team won six games in a row.
In the first half, the Cougars shot 40.0 percent from field and the Utes had a field goal percentage of 42.9. From the 3-point line, BYU shot 62.5 percent, while Utah shot 11.1 percent. The Cougars finished the contest shooting 41.5 percent from the field, while the Utes shot 31.1 percent. The Cougars led for 44 minutes of the game.
The Cougars dished out 12 first half assists to the Utes nine. At the end of the game, BYU tallied 18 assists while the Utes got 11.
BYU finished the first 20 minutes of play with 24 rebounds while Utah brought down 23. At the end of the contest, the Cougars had 44 to the Utes 47.
The Cougars had four first half turnover to the Utes 10. Teams finished with 14 and 20, respectively.
In the steal category, the Cougars finished the game with 10 steals while the Utes had six.
Lexi Eaton Rydalch
Lexi Eaton Rydalch finished the game tying her season-high 29 points. She added six rebounds, three steals and two assists before fouling out with four minutes to play. Rydalch shot 4 for 7 from the 3-point line for the game.
After the first period of play, Rydalch led all scorers with 14, shooting 5 for 7 from the field and 3 for 3 from behind the arc. Rydalch scored eight of the Cougars first 10 points. Rydalch finished the half tied for a game-high 19 points.
Kalani Purcell pulled down a team-high seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes of action while dishing out three assists. Purcell finished the contest with nine points, a team-best 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals before fouling out in the fourth period.
Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher
Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher finished the game with nine points, six rebounds, two steals and five assists. With her six rebounds, Pulsipher tied her career-high and recorded a new season-high.
Cassie Broadhead came off the bench and had a solid game, contributing eight points and making critical free throws at the end of the game. She went 4 for 4 from the charity stripe, dished out two assists and grabbed three rebounds.