BYU's NCAA Tournament run comes to an end in 52-46 second round loss to Arizona
SAN ANTONIO — No. 11 seed BYU women’s basketball saw its season come to an end in a 52-46 loss to No. 3 seed Arizona in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Wednesday night. The Cougars stayed in it from start to finish but ultimately couldn’t overcome a 13-3 Wildcat run in the fourth quarter.
“First of all, I want to congratulate Arizona,” said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. “It was a good fight tonight. Both teams fought very hard and were very physical. In games like this, it comes down right to the end and which team hits the big shot or makes the right play. I'm really proud of our team. This has been a hard season, but a really fun season. To be able to get this far and knock on the door and come close to making it to the Sweet 16 was really great for this team."
Shaylee Gonzales led the way for BYU (19-6, 13-3) with 16 points on 5 of 13 shooting from the field. Gonzales also pulled down a season-high nine rebounds and had a block. Tegan Graham provided a much-needed spark off the bench and was responsible for three of BYU’s five made 3-point field goals. Graham finished with 13 points, three assists and five boards in 31 minutes of action. Lauren Gustin added eight points, one steal, two assists and led the team in rebounds with 11.
Paisley Johnson Harding battled through an injury to her shooting hand that she sustained in the Cougars' first round game against Rutgers on Monday. She tallied two points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Hamson added five boards and two blocks on the night for BYU.
The Cougars finished the day shooting 35% from the field, including 28% from beyond the arc. Arizona (18-5, 13-4) shot 36% and connected on 26% of its 3-point shots. BYU was outscored in the paint, 26-22, and in fast break points, 7-2. The Cougars’ bench accounted for 16 points. Points off turnovers proved to be the difference maker, as the Wildcats outscored BYU 20-6 in the category. The Cougars turned the ball over 15 times, compared to only nine turnovers for Arizona.
Gonzales set the tone early with a block on a fast break opportunity for the Wildcats to begin the game. Midway through the first quarter, Sara Hamson picked up her second foul, forcing the Cougars to go small.
Graham stepped right in, providing a spark off the bench for BYU. She picked up a driving lay-in on her first offensive possession to tie the game, 8-8, and hit a 3 to give BYU its first lead of the game, 11-10, the next trip down the court. Graham added a rebound, a block and a steal to keep the Cougars within one, 12-11, after a quarter of play.
Hamson picked up her third foul of the game early in the second and the Wildcats jumped out to a game-high five-point lead. Gonzales connected on her first 3 of the day to bring the Cougars back within reach, 22-20.
BYU ended the half on a 5-0 run, thanks to a Kaylee Smiler 3 in the corner and a pair of free throws by Gonzales. The Cougars entered the break with a 25-23 advantage. First half baskets were hard to come by, as BYU and Arizona shot just 32% and 33%, respectively, from the floor. Despite Hamson being bogged down by fouls and playing just eight first half minutes, rebounds were even, with each team pulling down 20.
BYU hit a jumper to begin the second half, but a 9-2 Arizona run erased the momentum that the Cougars had built up. Gonzales went up strong and completed a three-point play to regain BYU the lead, 32-31.
Both defenses put the clamps on, forcing extended scoring droughts. BYU scored the only two field goals of the final 5:37 of the third quarter, going 2-for-7 from the field, but forcing eight straight Arizona misses. The Wildcats also missed 3-of-4 from the line during that stretch, and the teams entered the fourth locked at 37.
Graham’s 10th point of the game came on a tough learner just inside the free throw line that tied the game at 39 with 7:02 to go. The next time down the court, Gustin put the Cougars back on top with a nice move in the paint. Gonzales extended the Cougar run to 6-0 with a layup over two Arizona players that forced a Wildcat timeout, with BYU up 43-39 and only five minutes remaining.
Arizona came out of the timeout and hit back-to-back 3-pointers to take a 45-42 lead with 3:43 to go. Graham hit her third 3 of the game with just under two minutes left to bring the Cougars back within one. A loose rebound went Arizona’s way and the Wildcats capitalized with their 14th second-chance point of the day to go up three, 49-46, with 1:11 remaining.
A potential game-tying three-point attempt by Smiler rimmed out and Arizona secured the rebound. Arizona went on to finish the game with a 13-3 run to pull out a 52-46 win and end BYU’s run in the NCAA Tournament.
- Gonzales scored her 1,000th career point on a free throw near the end of the second quarter. She is the 32nd BYU women’s basketball player to reach the 1,000-point milestone
- Gonzales led all scorers at the break with 11 points on three of six shooting. She finished the game with a team-high 16 points to go along with a season-high nine rebounds and a block
- Graham tallied 13 points, knocking down a game-high three 3-pointers, while adding five rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal
- Gustin pulled down 11 rebounds and recorded eight points, two assists and a steal
- Hamson posted five rebounds and two blocks on the night
- Harding, playing through an injury on her shooting hand that she sustained in the Rutgers game on Monday, tallied two points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of action
- BYU shot 35% from the floor, 28% from three and 71% from the foul line. The Wildcats shot 36% from the floor and 26% from three
- Both teams pulled down 38 rebounds on the game. The Cougars tallied 29 defensive boards to Arizona’s 24
- BYU dished out eight assists to the Wildcats’ seven
- The Cougars had 16 bench points compared to Arizona’s seven
- The Wildcats tallied 11 steals to BYU’s three and had 26 points in the paint to the Cougars’ 22
- The game featured 12 lead changes and was tied for over eight minutes
- BYU is now 2-3 all-time in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and has a 7-14 all-time record in the tournament