Women headed to Austin in third-straight NCAA appearance
2016 NCAA Women's Basketball Championships Bracket
PROVO, Utah — For the 12th time in program history and the eighth under head coach Jeff Judkins, BYU women’s basketball will compete in the NCAA tournament as a seven seed against No. 10 seed Missouri on Saturday in Austin, Texas.
No. 7 seed BYU (26-6) will battle No. 10 seed Missouri (21-9) Saturday at 5:30 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 and on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143. The winner of Saturday’s game will face the winner of No. 2 Texas and No. 15 Alabama.
“I got a little nervous there, but I’m happy,” BYU head coach Judkins said. “If we had won the tournament, we would’ve been a little higher. I’ve seen Missouri play and it will be a very tough challenge. It’s a great basketball atmosphere in Austin. It will be a lot of fun. Hopefully we can play like we’ve played all year.”
The Cougars have a 5-11 record in the NCAA, which includes two Sweet 16 appearances in 2002 and 2014. BYU was a No. 14 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament when it lost to No. 3 seed Louisville in the first round matchup in Tampa, Florida.
The Missouri Tigers are going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years after finishing the season with a 21-9 record, including an 8-8 mark in SEC play. BYU has not played Missouri since 1997 when the Cougars lost on the road, 72-66. All-time, BYU is 0-5 against Mizzou.
The Cougars are led by 2016 West Coast Conference Player of the Year Lexi Eaton Rydalch who averages 24.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game. The Mapleton, Utah, native was also a first team honoree while leading the team and the league in scoring. She ranks fifth nationally in points per game. This season she became the WCC’s all-time leading scorer for both men and women while ranking second all-time at BYU in women’s basketball.
Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher follows in scoring with 12.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a team-best 2.1 steals. Pulsipher picked up WCC Second-Team honors. She ranks 10th in scoring and sixth in both free-throw percentage and in steals in the conference.
The WCC’s Newcomer of the Year, Kalani Purcell, is the Cougars’ third leading scorer with 11.8 points, and with a team-best 12.7 rebounds, is averaging a double-double. She leads the way in assists with a 4.8 average and has recorded 18 double-doubles so far this season. Purcell led the league in rebounding, assists, defensive rebounds and minutes played. She ranks second nationally in defensive rebounds and is fifth in rebounds per game.
BYU won its first regular season WCC title with a 16-2 mark and went 12-0 at home while compiling the program’s longest winning streak with 16 straight victories. The Cougars have been in and out of the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll the past three weeks, coming in at No. 22 on Feb. 23. They fell out of the poll after the road loss at Gonzaga and then came back in at No. 24 on March 8.
The Cougars have played five teams that are participating in this year’s NCAA tournament, No. 4 seed Texas A&M, No. 6 seed Oklahoma, No. 8 seed Georgia, No. 13 seed and fellow WCC participant San Francisco, and No. 14 seed Hawaii. BYU beat Texas A&M, Hawaii and won the league series vs. USF.
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