BYU Women's basketball vs. Saint Mary's 16

Brigham Young University head coach Jeff Judkins talks with center Sara Hamson (22) as the Cougars take foul shots during a game between the Brigham Young University Cougars and the Saint Mary's College Gaels held Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at the Marriott Center in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Sara Hamson’s 12 points and 12 rebounds helped lead BYU women’s basketball to a 59-44 victory over LMU at Gersten Pavilion as the Cougars opened West Coast Conference play on Saturday.

“I thought this was a good team effort for us and I thought Shalae’s (Salmon) basket in the third quarter gave us that lift we needed,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “I thought defensively, we really did a good job. Sara was a big presence inside for us and I thought Khaedin (Taito) had a really good game as well.”

Along with her double-double, Hamson recorded three blocks while shooting 6 of 9 from the field. Paisley Johnson scored a game-high 16 points while also recording four rebounds and three assists. Salmon totaled eight points, four rebounds and two blocks.

LMU (4-10, 0-1 WCC) jumped out to a 7-4 lead over BYU (6-5, 1-0 WCC) to start the game. Hamson pulled down an offensive rebound before putting it back up to cut the deficit to a single point five minutes into the first period.

Johnson cut down the middle of the lane to give the Cougars an 8-7 lead. BYU continued on its run with Johnson and Leilani Otuafi knocking down 3-pointers to extend the Cougars’ advantage to 14-7 with 3:15 remaining in the quarter.

Salmon made back-to-back baskets in the paint before Maria Albiero added a trey to give BYU a 21-7 edge. The Lions scored five points in the final 43 seconds in the period, their first points since the 6:50 mark, to put an end to the Cougars’ 17-0 run and make the score 21-12.

Salmon scored an easy layup to start the second quarter after receiving a lob in the paint from Babalu Ugwu. Hamson and Johnson both added layups of their own as the two teams traded baskets with BYU maintaining the edge, 27-16.

Both Hamson and Johnson continued to have their way near the hoop as the duo each scored a layup to make the score 31-20 with 4:11 remaining in the half. Both teams struggled offensively as neither side scored another point in the period and the Cougars entered halftime with a 31-20 lead.

Johnson led both teams with nine points at the break while Hamson scored eight points and pulled down five boards.

LMU scored three consecutive baskets in the first few minutes of the second half to bring the game within five points, 31-26. Salmon and Jasmine Moody scored layups while Brenna Chase Drollinger added a layup and a pair of free throws to help BYU answer with an 8-2 run to take a 39-27 lead with 4:08 left in the third period.

After two made Lion free throws, the Cougars continued to dominate the offensive paint with Khaedin Taito making a layup and Hamson scoring two baskets in the final 1:24 of the quarter. The quick six-point run gave BYU a 45-29 advantage heading into the final period of play.

After Loyola Marymount split a pair of free throws to start the fourth quarter, neither team scored for four minutes until Drollinger drained a 3-pointer at the 5:32 mark to increase the Cougars’ lead to 48-30.

Johnson closed out the game scoring seven-straight points for BYU as the Cougars comfortably secured the 59-44 victory.

BYU will continue WCC play against Pepperdine at Firestone Fieldhouse today. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. PST and the game will be streamed on the WCC Network.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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