CHICAGO—In its first NCAA Tournament game in five years, the No. 10 seed BYU women’s basketball team ended its season with a 59-55 loss to No. 7 seed DePaul at the Allstate Arena Saturday.
The West Coast Conference Tournament champions finished the season with a record of 26-7 overall.
“Congratulations to DePaul,” said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. “They executed very well. I was impressed with their point guard. I’m really proud of our team. They’ve played hard and worked hard. We have some things that we need to work on for next season. I’m really proud of Kristen. She’s had a great career her at BYU.”
Jennifer Hamson scored a career-high 21 points in the loss and added a season-high 11 rebounds for her fourth career double-double. Senior Kristen Riley also scored in double figures with 10 points and added 12 rebounds for her 15th career double-double. She also had a career-high seven assists.
The Cougars’ 20 turnovers and 25 percent 3-point shooting hurt them. DePaul had 15 turnovers, but connected for 30 points off BYU’s turnovers compared to the Cougars’ 11 points off turnovers. BYU shot 33.9 percent on the night compared to the Blue Demons’ 42.6 percent.
BYU stumbled out of the gate as DePaul sped off on a 10-1 run, but Hamson came off the bench for three quick layups to put the Cougars back in the game. A DePaul foul on her next attempt put Hamson at the line to tie it up 12-12. The 6-foot-7 center continued to help out in the paint with an assist to Dani Peterson’s jumper that took the lead for BYU with 10:55 on the clock. Hamson had 10 points after 11.5 minutes of play.
BYU went ahead by five with five minutes left in the half on another bucket in the paint from Hamson for the team’s largest lead of the game.
Three Cougar fouls in a row put DePaul’s Jasmine Penny at the free-throw line to tie the score at 27-27.
Hamson recorded 14 of the Cougars’ 29 points in the first half on 6-for-8 shooting, sending BYU to the locker room with a two-point lead despite its early nine-point deficit. Senior point guard Haley Steed didn’t have any points in the first half but kept the Cougars alive with four assists.
BYU struggled the first few minutes of the second half, shooting 0-for-7 while the Blue Demons took a 14-0 run. True freshman Lexi Eaton broke the Cougars’ silence with a layup with 13:45 on the clock, putting up the points off of a pass by Riley, but it wasn’t enough to get BYU back on its game.
A rushed DePaul shot was rebounded by Steed, who tore down the court to dish the ball to Riley in the paint for BYU’s second layup of the half. Blue Demon Deanna Ortiz caught Riley as she went up, putting the senior at the line for an old-fashioned three-point play.
Steed cut further into DePaul’s lead with back-to-back deep 3s, her first points of the game.
Eight points down with 4:17 left to play, Riley got the ball to Hamson under the basket for a layup. A baseline 3-pointer by Stephanie Vermunt put the Cougars within four. Eaton stole the ball on a DePaul inbounds pass and Hamson grabbed the an offensive board off a missed shot on the possession and laid it in, drawing the foul for three points on the play.
A missed 3-point attempt to send the game into overtime gave the ball back to DePaul. A free throw gave the Blue Demons their final points for a 59-55 DePaul victory.
After scoring just one point in the first four minutes of the game, sophomore Stephanie Vermunt put the Cougars back on the scoreboard with a 3-pointer followed by eight straight points from center Jennifer Hamson, tying the game at 12-all with 11:48 left in the first half.
BYU took its first lead 14-12 on a layup by Dani Peterson at the 10:55 mark and went into the break with a 29-27 advantage.
The Cougars grabbed 42 rebounds to the Blue Demons’ 32, making it the 22nd time this year that BYU has had more boards than its opponents. They also dished out 17 assists to DePaul’s seven.
BYU shot .900 (9-10) from the free-throw line.
Jennifer Hamson came off the bench to score 14 points in the first half and ended the game with a career-best 21, marking her 14th double-figure game of the year and the 24th of her career. She also grabbed 10 rebounds, recording her third double-double of the season, the fourth of her career.
Haley Steed dished out six assists for the game.
Kristen Riley grabbed a game-best 11 rebounds to go along with her 10 points for her 11th double-double of the year and the 16th of her career. She also dished out a game-best seven assists for a career high in that category.