Josh Carter | Posted: 18 Dec 2020 | Updated: 11 Jan 2021

Big second half propels BYU to 84-74 win over Southern Utah

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S. Gonzales vs. SUU 2020-21


CEDAR CITY, Utah — BYU women’s basketball used a 28-3 second-half run to secure an 84-74 road victory over Southern Utah Friday afternoon at America First Event Center.

BYU vs. SUU Final Box Score

"We were a little sluggish today, maybe because of finals this week as well as not playing for a while," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "But we came out and played well in the second half. There was a stretch where we played really well defensively and offensively."

The Cougars (4-1) trailed 49-41 halfway through the third quarter before finding their rhythm and jumping out to a 69-52 lead three minutes into the fourth. BYU implemented a stifling, high-trapping defense in the second half that forced nine SUU (2-2) turnovers over the final 20 minutes.

Sophomore guard Shaylee Gonzales led the Cougars with 26 points on 12 of 21 shooting while also adding five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Sophomore forward Lauren Gustin racked up 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds to notch her third double-double of the year.

Senior guard Paisley Johnson Harding also scored in double figures, tallying 15 points to go along with three assists and a steal. Fellow senior guard Maria Albiero recorded eight points, seven assists, two steals and a rebound.

As a team, BYU shot 54% from the floor and 32% from distance. The Cougars scored 21 fast-break points on the afternoon, 15 of which came in the second half.

SUU senior guard Liz (Eaton) Graves, who spent her first two collegiate seasons with BYU, led the Thunderbirds with 34 points and 10 rebounds. 

Gustin and Hamson started the game off with back-to-back baskets in the paint to give BYU an early 4-0 lead. Gustin converted a three-point play after being fouled down low and Albiero drained a triple from the left wing to then put the Cougars up 10-4. An Albiero layup followed by a Tegan Graham triple and a Gonzales floater gave BYU a 17-10 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. SUU scored seven unanswered points to tie things up before the Cougars closed the quarter on a 3-0 run to take a 20-17 advantage.

Teams traded basket to open the second quarter, as back-to-back layups by Gonzales gave BYU a 24-23 lead. A Harding layup and a mid-range jumper by Gustin tied the game at 28 halfway through the second quarter. The Thunderbirds then used a 9-2 run to go up 37-30 before a pair of free throws from Tahlia White and a Kaylee Smiler triple brought the Cougars within four, 39-35, at the break.

SUU opened the first half with back-to-back baskets before a Harding baseline jumper brought the score to 43-37 for the Thunderbirds. Teams then traded baskets, as a Gustin layup and a Gonzales jumper brought the score to 49-41 for SUU. BYU proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, as Albiero drained a 3-pointer and found Gonzales for a fast-break layup to bring the Cougars within one, 49-48.

Following a Thunderbird triple, the Cougars went on an 11-0 run over the final 3:52 of the third quarter highlighted by a three-point play from Harding and fast-break layups by Gonzales and Gustin. The run, also fueled by a stifling and high-trapping Cougar defense, gave BYU a 60-52 advantage heading into the final quarter.

The Cougars carried their momentum into the fourth, as a 9-0 run fueled by back-to-back baskets from Gonzales and a Harding 3-pointer put BYU up 69-52. SUU scored its first basket in over seven minutes of play before layups by Gonzales and Malli Perri put the Cougars up 73-56 with 5:35 remaining.

After White drained a 3-pointer to extend the Cougars’ lead to 20, a 14-0 Thunderbird run cut BYU’s lead to six, 76-70, with 1:13 left in the game. The Cougars finished strong, however, as a three-point play by Harding and a fast-break layup by Gonzales put BYU up 82-70 with 32 seconds remaining. Gustin scored another fast-break layup before SUU scored a couple of baskets in the closing seconds, bringing the final score to 84-74 for the Cougars.

Player Notes

  • Gustin paced BYU in the first half with 10 points and seven boards. She finished the contest with 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for her third double-double of the season
  • Gonzales tallied eight points, two rebounds and two assists during the first 20 minutes of play. She ended the game with a team-high 26 points on 12 of 21 shooting, while adding
  • Harding scored a season-high 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting to go along with three assists and a steal
  • Albiero dished out a season-high seven assists while adding eight points, two steals and a rebound
  • Sara Hamson notched a season-high three blocks, all in the first half, to go along with two points and a rebound
  • White matched her season-high with five points coming off the bench and added one steal
  • Graham, also coming off the bench, tallied four points, five rebounds and four assists

Team Notes

  • Despite shooting 47% from the field in the first half, the Cougars made just three of their 13 3-point attempts. They finished the game with a 54% field goal percentage and shot 32% from deep
  • BYU dominated down low early, scoring 18 first half points in the paint to SUU’s 12. In all, the Cougars scored 44 points in the paint while the Thunderbirds had 36
  • BYU tallied 21 fast-break points to SUU’s two. The Cougars had 15 fast-break points in the first half after implementing a high-trapping defense
  • In assists, BYU had 19 while the Thunderbirds had 14
  • The Cougars won the rebounding battle, 30-29
  • BYU had 14 bench points while SUU had 10