PROVO, Utah – BYU head coach Jeff Judkins became the all-time winningest coach in BYU women’s basketball history, picking up his 220th career win as the Cougars defeated Pepperdine, 80-56, Thursday at the Marriott Center.
Judkins passed former BYU coach Courtney Leishman (1977-89) for the record and is now 220-111 (.665) in his 11th season as head coach of the Cougars. Leishman finished at BYU with a 219-124 (.638) record.
"This milestone means I've had great players," Judkins said. "You can't make chicken salad without chicken. I've had great assistant coaches who work hard and believe in me. It's gone by fast and winning makes me happy so I've had some good nights. I'm happy to be doing something I've wanted my whole life and to be good at it helps in having success. I'm very excited about where this program is going."
BYU, winner of 14 of its last 15 games, improved to 15-3 and 4-1 in the West Coast Conference as Pepperdine fell to 8-8, 3-2.
"They're (Pepperdine) really fast and quick in every position," Judkins said. "They're really good at spreading you out and I thought we did a good job early but we got tired. We haven't zoned much but I think we probably played more zone tonight than I have in two years. I thought Haley had a stellar night. Their game was to pressure her and she still had 14 assists tonight. You can't coach that, you can't coach toughness."
Freshman guard Lexi Eaton had a team-high 15 points, to go with three steals, two blocks and a career-best seven boards.
Tied 15-15 early, an initial 9-0 run helped BYU jump out to an early 24-15 lead behind strong play by Steed. After a steal and jumper in transition, Steed assisted on two-straight 3-point baskets first by Stephanie Vermunt and then by Eaton.
The Cougars went into halftime up by 10 points, 37-27, thanks to Eaton’s hot hand. The freshman netted nine of BYU’s last 16 points before halftime over the final seven minutes of the first period.
The Cougars turned to center Jennifer Hamson off the bench in the second half, using the sophomore to bury the Waves with a 13-2 run to take a decisive 58-38 lead with 12:16 remaining. Hamson scored the first nine points of the run on layups and BYU held Pepperdine to a single field goal over the final nine minutes for the victory.
"I try to take the challenges he (Coach Judkins) gives me to heart and then my teammates are good and give me good passes," Hamson said. "My teammates are really good at being aggressive and they find me down low. We always try to push the advantages that we have and we had that tonight so it worked for us."
Hamson finished with 13 points and five blocks in 19 minutes of play and was joined by Vermunt’s 12 points on 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc in giving the Cougar bench a 30-4 margin over their Pepperdine counterparts.
BYU plays San Diego at Jenny Craig Pavilion on Saturday at 2 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast on BYU Radio.
The win against Pepperdine marked Jeff Judkins’ 220th victory at the helm of the BYU women’s basketball team. He now holds the record for most wins in school history, passing coach Courtney Leishman. Leishman coached the women’s basketball team for 12 seasons from 1977-89 and recorded 219 wins and 124 losses.
BYU outrebound Pepperdine 42-31 and held the Waves to only 31.7 percent shooting, nine assists and one block. The Cougars totaled 26 assists and 10 blocks.
The Cougars’ 25 assists are the most in conference play. Their 13 steals and 54.1 shooting percentage were also league-play highs.
BYU tied its league record for points in a game with 80.
The Cougar bench outscored Pepperdine's 30-4.
For the first time in league play and fifth time this season, four Cougars scored in double figures.
With a career- and season-high 14 assists, Haley Steed passed former BYU assistant coach and player Stacy Jensen to become No. 7 in BYU history for total assists. Her 14 assists rank No. 6 all-time for a single game. Steed added 11 points for her second double-double of the season and third career double-double. Steed also recorded four steals and three rebounds and shot 5-for-8 from the field.
True freshman Lexi Eaton drained 15 points to lead the Cougars. She also had seven rebounds, a career and season high, three steals and two blocks.
Jennifer Hamson had her own 9-2 scoring streak in the second half with four layups in a row and a free throw. She ended the game with 13 points, tying her season high set in the game against Eastern Washington. Hamson also had five blocks.
Kristen Riley led the Cougars on the boards with eight. She also collected nine points and five assists.
Stephanie Vermunt made 12 points against Pepperdine and shot a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.