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First half blitz propels BYU women’s basketball to win over Santa Clara

By Jared Lloyd - | Jan 27, 2022
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BYU sophomore Shaylee Gonzales goes up for a layup during the WCC game against Santa Clara at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (Courtesy BYU Photo)
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BYU players celebrate a good play during the WCC game against Santa Clara at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (Courtesy BYU Photo)
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BYU freshman Emma Calvert goes up for a layup during the WCC game against Santa Clara at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (Courtesy BYU Photo)

In the early days of World War II, the German army used a tactic known as “blitzkrieg” (German for lightning war) that relied on speed to get past opposing defenses before they knew what hit them.

The No. 16-ranked BYU women’s basketball gave another example of what that type of approach looks like on the hardwood during Thursday night’s West Coast Conference game against Santa Clara at the Marriott Center in Provo.

The Broncos had taken advantage of a few offensive rebounds and a couple of nice shots at the beginning of the first quarter to take a 7-6 lead on the Cougars.

Over the next nine-and-a-half minutes, however, BYU blitzed Santa Clara with a 25-2 run to seize control. That put the Cougars in position to cruise to the 76-44 win.

BYU created a lot of the offensive openings with good defense. The Cougars forced eight turnovers during that stretch, many of which resulted in baskets at the other end.

It was also a team effort as seven different BYU players put the ball in the hoop during the first half.

The big run began with foul shots from senior Paisley Harding, who gave the Cougars the lead for good. She would also get a 3-pointer and two more foul shots during that stretch.

Other scorers included sophomore Shaylee Gonzales (who had a layup and a jump shot), senior forward Teagan Graham (who beat the quarter buzzer with a jumper), freshman Nani Falatea (who chipped in a trey and a jump shot) and sophomore Kaylee Smiler (who made a layup and shot from beyond the arc).

BYU ended stretching the lead to 46-19 at the break, but there was still a lot of basketball left to be played.

Graham singlehandedly squashed any Bronco hopes of a big rally in the third quarter.

Graham scored the first 12 points of the period for BYU, knocking down a trio of 3-pointers as well as hitting a jumper while being fouled, then making the and-one free throw.

That kept the Cougars comfortably in front as the BYU lead ballooned to as many as 33 points (66-33) before Santa Clara was able to have some success against the Cougar bench in the final minutes.

BYU was led by 16 points and four assists from Graham, while Gonzales had 13 points and nine assists and Harding had 11 points. Sophomore forward Lauren Gustin paced the Cougars on the boards with 11 rebounds.

The Broncos were led by 10 points from Lindsey VanAllen, who was the only Santa Clara player in double figures.

BYU (17-1, 7-0 in WCC play) next hosts San Francisco at the Marriott Center on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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