Team effort leads BYU to 61-56 win over No. 16 Gonzaga
PROVO, Utah — BYU women's basketball gutted out an impressive 61-56 win over No. 16 Gonzaga at the Marriott Center on Thursday.
“I’m very proud of this team,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “This game has always been like this. Both of us compete so hard. Gonzaga is a very good team and they make it difficult. Tonight I felt that our bench and their bench were pretty equal, but we just made some plays at the end that got us the win. It was a great team effort.”
BYU (15-3, 11-2) shot 49% from the field and 40% from deep and had four Cougars finish in double figures, including Shaylee Gonzales, who finished with a team-high 16 points, seven assists and three rebounds. Paisley Johnson Harding added 12 points, Sara Hamson contributed 10 points, five rebounds and five blocks, while Lauren Gustin finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. BYU held Gonzaga (18-3, 13-1) to 37.9% shooting and 25% from beyond the arc.
The Cougars got on the board first with a Hamson layup following a Gonzales miss to take a 2-0 lead. A Harding free throw and Gustin jumper at the top of the key then gave BYU an early 5-0 lead. After the Cougars went up 8-3 on a Maria Albiero 3-pointer from the left wing, Gonzaga went on a 5-0 run to tie things up at 8-8. The Bulldogs took their first lead at 12-10, but Kaylee Smiler scored on a driving reverse layup to tie it once again at 12-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams traded 3-pointers to start the second quarter before Hamson broke a 15-15 tie with a left-handed hook shot. A floater by Tegan Graham, an elbow jumper by Harding and a Gustin layup then had it 23-22, BYU, midway through the second quarter.
Gonzaga took a 29-23 lead, thanks to a 7-0 run, that Gustin ended with a jumper from the short corner. Gonzales followed with her first basket of the night, a triple, to cut the Bulldogs' lead to one. After a Gonzaga basket on the other end, Gonzales knocked down a running floater in the paint with time winding down, making it 31-30, Bulldogs, at the half.
BYU shot 54.2% from the field and 42.9% from deep in the first half. Gonzaga shot 42.9% and 50% from beyond the arc through the first 20 minutes. Gustin led the Cougars with eight first half points. Gonzales and Graham each had five points at the half, and Gustin and Hamson had four boards each in the first 20 minutes.
Hamson opened the second half in similar fashion to the first, with a layup, to put BYU back in front 32-31. A Harding free throw and a deep two-point jumper by Gonzales had the Cougars up by four, but the Bulldogs quickly tied things back up at 35.
Harding knocked down a corner trey, making it 38-35, BYU, before Gonzaga once again took the lead. A Hamson layup, two free throws, another layup and a deep triple by Gonzales at the third-quarter buzzer had the Cougars back in front after three quarters, 47-43.
BYU came out firing to open the fourth quarter, taking a game-high 10-point lead at 55-45 on a Gustin jumper, Hamson layup, and an Albiero triple. The Bulldogs fought back to make it a three-point game at 55-52, before a backdoor reverse layup by Gonzales put the Cougars back in front by five.
Gonzaga made it a one-point game with 44.4 seconds remaining, but Harding hit a driving left-handed layup with 13.7 seconds remaining to give BYU a three-point advantage. After getting a stop and forcing a jump ball, BYU got the ball back and Harding knocked down a pair of free throws to ice the game for the Cougars, who would go on to win 61-56.
BYU will remain at home to play one final game in the Marriott Center this season as they host Portland on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv app.
- Gonzales scored a team-high 16 points on 6 of 12 shooting and added a game-high seven assists, three steals and three rebounds
- Harding tallied 12 points, including the game-sealing basket with 13 seconds left, while adding two rebounds and a pair of assists
- Gustin secured her 11th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two asssits and a steal
- Hamson posted 10 points, a game-high five blocks and five rebounds in 24 minutes of action
- Albiero contributed six points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists
- Graham scored five points and recorded two steals and a pair of assists in 17 minutes of action off the bench
- BYU shot 49% from the floor, including 40% from three, while holding Gonzaga to 38% shooting from the floor and 25% from distance
- The Cougars scored 26 points in the paint compared to the Bulldogs’ 24
- BYU scored 12 points off turnovers to Gonzaga’s nine and had six fast break points to the Bulldogs’ two
- The Cougars won the block (5-0), steals (10-8) and assist (15-10) battles
- Gonzaga scored 18 bench points to BYU’s seven and had 16 second-chance points to the Cougars’ seven
- Gonzaga out-rebounded BYU 35-30
- The Cougars, who led by as many as 10 mid-way through the fourth, held the lead for a total of 25 minutes, including the final 11 minutes of the game
- With the win, BYU remains undefeated at home on the season (8-0)
BYU head coach Jeff Judkins
Thoughts on tonight’s game
I think both Gonzaga and us didn’t play our best, but we respect each other. This game has always been like this. Both of us compete so hard. Gonzaga is a very good team and they make it difficult. Tonight I felt like their bench and our bench were pretty equal, but we made some plays at the end that got us the win. It was a great team effort. We had a hard time with the ball screen. We did better in the second half and didn’t give them as many second and third opportunities. This is how this game has been since I’ve been here. It’s a dog fight and it’s a game you look forward to. It’s a game as a coach and as players you look forward to and I’m really proud of them. Paisley had a big-time basket in the clutch, and it was awesome.
On the team’s success at home
We talked at the first of the year, and to really win a championship, you have to win all your games at home. I told the team it’s a big challenge and the last team to win all their games at home ended up winning the conference championship. Every time we play, right before they go on the court, I say, “We don’t lose at home,” and I think they believe it. I think they believe if they come out and play with the energy they need to, we’re a hard team to beat.
BYU guard Paisley Johnson Harding
On the basket that put BYU up by three
There were still 44 seconds left in the game and they wanted us to run the clock just a bit. We got set in our play, I went and drove and they kind of stopped me. And then I realized the shot clock was still winding down, so I needed to attack. I went up with a little left-handed floater, and luckily it went in. That was so much fun.
BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales
On the impact the buzzer-beating three had heading into the fourth quarter
It just brought tons of energy. We had a couple of those shots when the shot clock goes down, and it just brings the energy to our team that we need and gets in our head that we have control over this game and it just gets us so hyped. It felt so good to hit that shot. My team came around, and I know they have my back, and they support me. We just went crazy, and it brought us all together.
On how big this win is for the team going forward
This win is huge for us. After we played Gonzaga the first time, we told ourselves that we don’t lose at home and we were going to beat Gonzaga at home. We really locked down because we wanted to fight and win this game. We knew it was super important for us if we wanted to go to the NCAA Tournament and to potentially win the WCC Tournament. I’m super proud of my team and how we came together. Tonight was a team effort and we looked so good together—working the ball around, everyone hitting their shots, fighting for each other, playing tough defense. We played a great game tonight.