Second-half rally lifts BYU over Santa Clara, 66-63
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — BYU women’s basketball overcame an 18-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Santa Clara 66-63 Thursday night at the Leavey Center.
“I have to give our girls a lot of credit,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “When we were down 14 at halftime, I told them we couldn’t come back with just one shot. We had to do a little bit at a time and inch our way back. We just had a great effort from everyone tonight.”
The Cougars (17-3, 13-2) outscored the Broncos (13-10, 9-8) 38-17 over the final 14 minutes of the contest to secure their eighth consecutive win. After falling behind 38-24 at the break, BYU shot at a blistering 67% clip from three and 55% from the floor in the second half while holding Santa Clara to just 29% shooting over the final 20 minutes.
Shaylee Gonzales led all scorers with 20 points on 8 of 18 shooting, including 3 of 7 from distance, while Lauren Gustin tallied her 13th double-double of the season with 14 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a pair of steals.
Paisley Johnson Harding also notched a double-double in the win, recording 12 points and a career-high 10 assists to go along with five rebounds. Tegan Graham contributed 11 points off the bench, going 3 of 4 from deep, while Sara Hamson posted six points, six rebounds and three blocks.
With BYU trailing 49-46 at the start of the fourth, a Smiler triple followed by a tough basket in the paint by Gustin tied the game at 51 one minute into the quarter. The Cougars continued to roll, as layups by Hamson, Gustin and Gonzales gave BYU a 59-54 advantage with 6:26 remaining. Neither team scored over the next three minutes until a driving layup by Harding put BYU up 61-54. The Broncos refused to go down without a fight, however, as five straight Santa Clara points tightened things up at 61-59 with 2:31 left.
Neither team gave up a basket until Gustin got a baby hook to fall in the post with 59 seconds to play, giving the Cougars a 63-59 lead. Harding hit a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left, but a Bronco triple cut BYU’s lead to 65-62 with 15 seconds remaining.
With eight seconds left, Harding committed a foul during a dead-ball situation, giving Santa Clara two free throws and the ball. Bronco guard Lindsey VanAllen made one of two foul shots to cut the Cougars’ lead to just two, 65-63. BYU’s defense then held strong as Hamson grabbed a rebound off a Santa Clara 3-point miss and was fouled. Hamson hit one of her two ensuing free throws to put the Cougars back up three with three seconds left. Graham then blocked a last-second Bronco 3-point attempt to seal the 66-63 BYU win.
Santa Clara utilized a stingy full-court defense early on that forced three quick BYU turnovers as the Broncos took a 12-0 lead to start the game. The Cougars fought back, as Harding hit a trey and Gonzales converted a four-point play to bring BYU within five, 17-12, at the end of the first quarter. Graham hit a pair of 3-pointers, but hot shooting by the Broncos from deep gave them a 32-20 advantage mid-way through the second quarter. Gonzales hit a midrange jumper and Gustin scored in the post, but Santa Clara took a 38-24 lead into the locker room.
The Broncos continued their hot shooting from three, as a pair of triples gave Santa Clara a 46-28 lead four minutes into the third quarter. BYU answered, however, with a pair of Gonzales 3-pointers and a Gustin layup to cut its deficit to 10 at 46-36. The Cougars continued to claw back, as a three-point play by Harding, a pair of layups by Gonzales and a Graham triple from the top of the key brought BYU within three, 49-46, heading into the fourth.
The Cougars outscored the Broncos 20-14 in the final quarter to secure their eighth consecutive win.
BYU is scheduled to close out the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 27, at San Francisco. The game will tip-off at 12 p.m. PST and a live stream will be available on the WCC Network.
- Harding’s 10 assists eclipsed her previous career-high of seven she set two seasons ago against Portland. Harding also tallied 12 points and five rebounds in the win. Tonight’s double-double was the second of her career
- Gustin secured her 13th double-double of the season, racking up 14 points on 7 of 12 shooting and pulling down a game-best 13 boards. She also tallied three assists, two blocks and a pair of steals in 38 minutes of action
- Gonzales poured in a game-high 20 points on 8 of 18 shooting, going 3 of 7 from deep. She also posted three rebounds, two steals and one assist on the night
- Graham knocked down 3 triples and a pair of free throws off the bench, scoring 11 points to go along with three assists, two blocks, one steal and one rebound
- Hamson scored six points and added six rebounds, three blocks and one assist
- Kaylee Smiler posted a game-high four steals, three points and an assist off the bench
- For the game, BYU shot 43% from the floor, 44% from three and 67% from the free-throw line. The Cougars held Santa Clara to 33% shooting from the floor and 40% from distance
- BYU dominated the paint, scoring 30 points in the key to the Broncos’ 14
- The Cougars had 18 points off turnovers compared to Santa Clara’s nine
- BYU tallied more blocks (7-2), steals (9-7) and assists (20-14) than the Broncos
- Santa Clara out-rebounded the Cougars 37-34
- BYU led for just under eight minutes of the contest
- The Cougars’ current eight-game winning streak is the team’s longest since the 2018-19 season, when BYU tallied 11 consecutive wins