Josh Carter | Posted: 4 Jan 2021 | Updated: 28 Jan 2021

Cougars drop road contest 58-56 to San Diego

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SAN DIEGO — BYU women’s basketball came up just short to San Diego Monday night at Jenny Craig Pavilion, falling 58-56 to the Toreros.

BYU at San Diego Final Box Score

“Credit to San Diego. Their defensive pressure took us out of our rhythm for most of the night," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We did have our chances. We made some nice plays to put us where we needed to be at the end, but we just couldn’t quite pull it off.”

After a Shaylee Gonzales layup capped a 7-0 Cougar run and tied the game at 56 in the final minute, a pair of Torero (5-3, 2-1) free throws and a series of BYU (6-2, 2-1) turnovers ultimately doomed the Cougars.

Gonzales led all scorers with 21 points to go along with eight rebounds, a season-high five steals and three assists. Sophomore forward Lauren Gustin racked up a season-high 18 rebounds and also added six points and two assists.

Senior center Sara Hamson tallied a season-high six blocks on the night, moving her past her older sister, Jennifer, as No. 2 on BYU’s all-time career blocks list. Hamson also recorded seven points, six rebounds and an assist.

Coming off the bench, senior guard Tegan Graham also had seven points to go along with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Sophomore guard Kaylee Smiler and senior guard Maria Albiero each scored five points for the Cougars.

BYU shot 43% from the floor, compared to USD’s 37%, but committed a season-high 26 turnovers against the Toreros’ stingy full-court defense.

With the Cougars trailing 56-54 with just more than a minute left in the game, Gonzales tied things up at 56 with a layup while being fouled as the shot clock expired. A Torero free throw on the other end then gave USD a one-point lead, 57-56, with 59 seconds left. Gonzales lost the ball on the ensuing possession but proceeded to steal it back with 13 seconds remaining.

Following a BYU timeout, Gonzales passed the ball just out of Smiler’s reach in the corner, giving the Toreros the ball back with 9 seconds left. USD converted one of two free throws following a Cougar foul, and Gonzales’ last-second heave came up short at the buzzer, preserving the 58-56 Torero win.  

The Cougars struggled early against the Toreros’ full-court press, as USD took a 5-0 lead just over a minute into the contest. BYU tied the game at seven mid-way through the quarter following a Harding triple and baskets from Gustin and Gonzales. Back-to-back layups by Albiero and Gonzales tied things up at 11 before the Toreros scored three unanswered points to take a 14-11 lead at the end of the period.

Layups by Gonzales and Hamson followed by a fast-break Gonzales triple gave the Cougars their first lead of the game, 18-16, three minutes into the second quarter. Graham drained a 3-pointer from the wing to break a three-minute BYU scoring drought and tie the game at 21 with three minutes left in the half. A USD jumper then gave the Toreros a 23-21 advantage at the break.

Albiero tied the game at 26 with a 3-pointer two minutes into the second half before back-to-back fast-break layups by Gonzales gave the Cougars a 30-26 lead. Gonzales scored another fast-break layup before finding a wide-open Hamson for a lay-in, putting BYU up 35-33. A block by Hamson led to a triple by Graham to extend the Cougars’ lead to seven, 40-33. Layups by Hamson and Smiler followed by a pull-up jumper by Gonzales put BYU up four, 46-42, heading into the final quarter.

The Toreros scored three quick baskets to open the final quarter before a Harding jumper tied the game at 48. The Cougars struggled to score over the next four minutes, as an 8-1 USD run gave the Toreros a 56-49 lead with 3:25 remaining. BYU responded, however, with a pair of free throws by Graham and a 3-pointer by Smiler to bring the Cougars within two, 56-54, with 2:44 left.

Despite tying the game at 56 with just over a minute left, BYU went on to fall 58-56. 

Up next, the Cougars remain on the road to face Loyola Marymount on Thursday, Jan. 7, at 6 p.m. PST. The matchup will be streamed live on the WCC Network.

Player Notes

  • Gonzales led all scorers at halftime with nine points to go along with six rebounds and two steals. She ended with 21 points on 9 of 20 shooting while adding eight rebounds, a season-high five steals and three assists.
  • Gustin pulled down 10 rebounds and scored two points in the first 20 minutes. She finished the contest with a BYU career-high 18 rebounds, six points and two assists.
  • Sara Hamson swatted a season-high six shots, moving her past her sister, Jennifer, as No. 2 on BYU’s all-time career blocks list. Hamson now has 343 career blocks.
  •  Graham stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block.
  • Albiero recorded five points, three assists, two rebounds and one steal.
  • Smiler scored five points off the bench in 13 minutes of action.

Team Notes

  • The Cougars shot 43% from the floor, 33% from three and 50% from the free-throw line while holding USD to 37% shooting.
  • The Cougars committed a season-high 26 turnovers compared to the Toreros’ 15.
  • BYU dominated the boards, out-rebounding USD 41-29.
  • In blocks, the Cougars tallied a season-high seven while the Toreros had one.
  • USD’s bench outscored BYU’s, 23-12.
  • The contest featured six lead changes and nine ties
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