Record crowd watches BYU beat Gonzaga on Senior Day
PROVO, Utah — BYU defeated Gonzaga 63-39 in front of 6,289 fans––the most to ever watch a women's basketball game at the Marriott Center on Saturday afternoon.
On senior day, the Cougars (23-2, 13-1) used a big start to the second half to run away from the Zags (21-6, 12-2), outscoring Gonzaga 23-8 in the third quarter.
“These are fun games. They’re fun to coach and fun to play,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “I’m proud of these girls, every single one of them. They all had to sacrifice to make this team successful, and what a great example they are for the younger girls on the team.”
BYU's record crowd also helped extend the Cougars's home winning streak to 30 games, posting back-to-back undefeated seasons at the Marriott Center.
“The crowd was amazing today,” Judkins said. “I knew we would have a good turnout, but we had more than we expected and to break a school record on senior day, that is huge and so special.”
It was sophomore Shaylee Gonzales who led the scoring with 21 points but senior Paisley Harding posted 16 points and seven assists and senior Maria Albiero added eight points, including two triples.
BYU assisted on 20 of 23 makes from the field after entering the game No. 2 nationally with 20.1 assists per game. The Cougar defense held Gonzaga to a season-low 39 points, allowing just 25.5 percent from the field.
With a strong drive in the first minute of play, Harding drew a foul to start the game with a basket from the charity stripe. Lauren Gustin drove inside the paint to put more points on the board for the Cougars.
The Bulldogs answered back with a three-pointer and free-throw of their own. After a three from Albiero, the Cougars went up 6-4 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
After a few more layups on both sides of the ball and a set of free throws by Gonzaga, the first quarter ended with the Bulldogs ahead 12-11.
Harding started the scoring in the second quarter with a jumper from inside the paint. A driving layup from Gonzales and a three-pointer by freshman Nani Falatea put the Cougars ahead of the Bulldogs 19-13.
After a block by senior Sara Hamson, Harding drew a foul and went 2-of-2 from the charity stripe to extend the lead 23-14. With four minutes remaining in the second quarter, a Gonzales layup assisted by Harding pushed the momentum for the Cougars as they went on a 6-0 run over the Bulldogs.
The Cougars went into the locker room ahead of the Bulldogs by 10 points, 27-17. BYU ended the first half shooting 38 percent from the field and Gonzaga ended shooting just 20 percent.
Senior Tegan Graham started the second half with a three-pointer from the top of the arc. Albiero hit another Cougar three-pointer to stretch the Cougar lead to 16 points with a score of 37-21 in the fifth minute of play.
A 12-0 run and a three-pointer by Harding forced a Gonzaga timeout. BYU continued its momentum after Gonzales drew a foul for a three-point play. The Cougars finished the third quarter with a 25-point lead with a score of 50-25.
Gonzales went 2-of-2 from the free-throw line to put the first points on the board for BYU in the final quarter. A three-pointer from the top of the arc by Graham gave the Cougars momentum in the final quarter.
After a two-minute Gonzaga scoring drought, Hamson drew a foul and made both baskets from the free-throw line. Falatea hit a jumper from inside the paint to finish the game for BYU. The Cougars secured a 63-39 win over the Bulldogs in their last home game of the 2022 season.
After the game, the Cougars recognized the five seniors including Paisley Harding, Sara Hamson, Maria Albiero, Tegan Graham and Kayla Belles-Lee.
Up next, BYU is on the road Thursday, Feb. 24 against Santa Clara.