Harding Guides BYU Past Saint Mary’s 79-61
MORAGA, Calif. — Paisley Johnson Harding dropped a season-high 28 points as BYU women’s basketball defeated Saint Mary’s 79-61 Saturday afternoon at the University Credit Union Pavilion.
“Paisley played really well today,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “She played really slow and under control and took advantage of what the defense gave her. I thought the third quarter was one of our best stretches we’ve played this season both offensively and defensively."
Harding sank 12 of her 20 shot attempts from the floor, going 3 of 6 from distance, and added three rebounds in 32 minutes of action. The senior guard set the tone early for the Cougars (14-3, 10-2), scoring nine first quarter points, and hit a couple of timely 3-pointers to help BYU pull away from the Gaels (5-16, 3-12) in the third quarter.
The Cougars, who trailed the Gaels 43-41 early in the third, outscored Saint Mary’s 28-16 in the quarter and 41-24 in the second half to secure their fifth consecutive win. As a team, BYU shot 49% from the floor while holding Saint Mary’s to 38% shooting.
Shaylee Gonzales scored 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Lauren Gustin posted her 10th double-double of the season, tallying 16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals. Sara Hamson recorded eight points and three steals while Tegan Graham added seven points and three rebounds.
BYU made its first three shot attempts of the game to take an early 6-3 lead. Albiero then found Graham for a fast-break layup and Harding converted a three-point play to put the Cougars up 13-5. Saint Mary’s fought back to within one, 19-18, but baskets in the paint by Gustin and Harding gave BYU a 23-18 lead at the end of the opening period.
Graham hit a triple from the left wing to cap a 9-2 run to start the second quarter and give BYU a 32-20 advantage. The Gaels answered with a 14-2 run of their own to tie the game at 34. Harding then hit a pull up jumper and a layup on back-to-back possessions as the Cougars took a 38-37 lead into the locker room.
Both teams traded a flurry of baskets to start the second half, as two 3-pointers apiece by Gonzales and Harding gave BYU a 52-45 lead. The Cougars continued their hot shooting throughout the quarter, as Gustin scored a pair of baskets in the paint and Harding drilled a jumper and a driving layup to put BYU up 64-51. Graham hit a floater in the lane to give BYU a 66-53 lead heading into the fourth.
Harding continued to score seemingly at will, as a 3-pointer from the top of the key followed by a contested layup by the senior guard put the Cougars up 73-57 three minutes into the final quarter. Gustin scored down low and Gonzales hit a floater to then put BYU up by 20, 77-57. Kayla Belles-Lee hit a midrange jumper to seal the 79-61 Cougar win.
BYU returns home next week to take on No. 17 Gonzaga on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. MST. The matchup will be broadcast live on BYUtv and on the BYUtv App.
- Harding led all scorers with a season-high 28 points on 12 of 20 shooting, going 3 of 6 from three-point range. Her 28 points tied the second-highest scoring output of her career and was just three points shy of her career-high 31 she scored at Pacific last season
- Gustin notched her 10th double-double of the season, scoring 16 points and pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds. She also added two assists and two steals
- Gonzales tallied 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting, including 2 of 4 from deep. She also had four rebounds, three assists and three steals
- Hamson recorded seven points, three rebounds, three steals and a block
- Graham had seven points, three rebounds, one assist and a block in 23 minutes of action off the bench
- Albiero posted five rebounds, four assists, a pair of steals and two points
- BYU shot 49% from the floor, 38% from distance and 100% (9-9) from the free-throw line. The Cougars held the Gaels to 38% shooting from the floor and 23% from three
- BYU dominated the paint, scoring 46 points in the key to Saint Mary’s 28
- The Cougars had 21 points off turnovers compared to the Gaels’ 10
- BYU won the rebound (40-32) and steal (11-7) battles
- Saint Mary’s dished out 12 assists to the Cougars’ 11 and had seven blocks to BYU’s four
- The win over the Gaels puts the Cougars’ current winning streak at five, matching the season-best five-game winning streak BYU had earlier this year