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No. 16 BYU rolls to sixth straight WCC win, pounds San Diego

By Darnell Dickson - | Jan 24, 2022

BYU's Paisley Harding (13) takes a shot against San Diego during a West Coast Conference women's basketball game at the Marriott Center on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (BYU Courtesy Photo)

Can anybody in the West Coast Conference give the Cougars a game?

The No. 16 BYU women’s basketball team moved to 6-0 in league play on Monday with a 70-48 spanking of San Diego in the Marriott Center. The Cougars’ margin of victory in those six games is 25.5 points per contest.

BYU played some close games in the preseason, but since WCC play started no one has really threatened to knock the Cougars off.

Jeff Judkins said his team can’t wait for the challenge.

“I think they’re ready for it,” Judkins said. “Don’t kid yourself when people say we don’t want to play a good schedule. The girls want to play the best teams. And we want to play tough teams. The girls want to play more than 20 minutes a game. They know they want to get there and get a sweat and get in shape. That’s part of it, too. So the next few games we play Santa Clara and San Francisco. They’re really good teams so it’ll be it’ll be a tough stretch here.”

BYU and San Diego played Saturday at Montezuma Mesa, with the Cougars getting out to a 20-point lead before the Toreros cut it to nine late. The final margin was 11 points. On Monday, BYU led by 16 at halftime then stretched that lead to 24 early in the third quarter.

This time, the Cougars didn’t let San Diego back into the game.

“They’re very aggressive team,” said BYU’s Lauren Gustin, who totaled her ninth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds. “I feel like for me personally, it was hard getting rebounds. They like to go after the ball. It’s kind of hard to collect the ball so that for me that was the toughest part. They like to press so I think just playing the back to back is tough.

“We kind of knew their game plan and they knew our game plan so that was kind of hard going back into it as well because we both knew what we were going to do. It also made it fun because it just kind of came down to who was going to work harder.”

The beginning of the game turned out just as you might expect from two teams who played each other about just two days ago: A lot of turnovers. BYU jumped out to a 10-0 on a 3-point play by Shaylee Gonzales and San Diego didn’t score a basket until the 3:26 mark of the first quarter.

The two teams combined for 17 first-quarter turnovers, but the Cougars held as 12-7 lead going to the second period. Gustin got loose inside and scored 10 points in a 14-5 burst, allowing BYU to climb to a 26-12 advantage with 4:44 to play in the half. As the clock wound down, Gonzales found Paisley Harding for a layup to beat the buzzer and BYU took a 35-19 lead at the half.

The two teams combined for 27 first-half turnovers (16 by San Diego).

The Cougars sped to a 10-0 run in the third quarter, with 3-pointers from Maria Albiero and Gonzales, to lead 45-21 at the 6:59 mark. Nani Falatea’s triple beat the buzzer and BYU took a 57-33 advantage into the fourth period.

Most impressive on Monday was that even though San Diego’s aggressive half-court defense caused 22 turnovers, BYU actually outscored the Toreros 16-15 in points off turnovers, causing 20 miscues of its own.

“I thought tonight we won the game because of our defense,” Judkins said. “To hold them the 48 points and with the turnovers we had, the best thing is they didn’t get a lot of baskets out of it. We did a really good job in the half court defense and we did a lot better job in transition then we did at their place Saturday.”

Gonzales, who scored 29 points in Saturday’s win, had 20 points on Monday to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Harding added 16 points and five rebounds for the Cougars.

Freshman Harsimran Kaur had 13 points for San Diego (2-4 WCC, 10-8 overall).

Due to COVID-19 scheduling adjustment, BYU (6-0, 16-1) will play four games in seven days. Next up for the Cougars is a matchup with Santa Clara in the Marriott Center on Thursday, followed by another home game on Saturday against San Francisco.

“I’m super excited,” Gustin said. “I love playing home games and I love our fans. That’s super exciting that we’re home and also just to play some good ball, play some good teams. We’re lucky to have such a great atmosphere for our home games.”

BYU’s Shaylee Gonzales (right) drives to the basket against San Diego in a West Coast Conference women’s basketball game the Marriott Center on Monday, Jan. 22, 2022. (BYU Courtesy Photo)

BYU’s Paisley Harding (13) drives past San Diego’s Steph Gorman during a West Coast Conference women’s basketball game at the Marriott Center on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (BYU Courtesy Photo)


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