PROVO -- In some games, a team can't miss a free throw. In others, however, even the best foul shooters seem to struggle.
Saturday's West Coast Conference battle with San Francisco at the Marriott Center was one of the contests that fell in the second category for the BYU women's basketball team (20-of-32, 62.5 percent).
But when the Cougars absolutely had to have them, BYU junior guard Kylie Maeda came through.
She knocked down three of her final four shots from the charity stripe and the Cougar defense dominated the final Don possession as BYU held on for the 65-62 win.
"I'm happy for the win," Cougar head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We should've won that game handily if we made our foul shots at the end. It wouldn't have been like that, but that is what basketball is about."
BYU led 62-60 when Maeda went to the line with 13.3 seconds to play, but she could only make 1-of-2, making it a one-possession game. After a San Francisco layup cut the lead to one, Maeda again got fouled.
Maeda said she just wanted make them for her team, particularly on the final two foul shots.
"I heard Judkins' voice in my head yelling at me to make the shots." Maeda said. "We've been working on that as a team, but there is still room for improvement. It was relieving (to make them)."
Judkins said he was completely confident in having his point guard at the line at such a crucial situation.
"If I had to choose someone to have at the foul line, Kylie would be one of the two I would choose," he said. "She's usually money, which was why I was trying to get her the ball."
While Maeda provided the final crucial points, it was Cougar senior forward Morgan Bailey who again carried BYU to victory. Bailey finished with 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.
"We went to Morgan a lot," Judkins said. "San Francisco jammed it up pretty good. They brought their weakside in to take away our middle cut. Morgan did better at that in the second half."
With members of the team battling illness and fatigue, a lot of the outside shots weren't falling (BYU was 5-of-21 from beyond the arc). Bailey's inside scoring played a huge role in getting the Cougars going.
"I have to come in every game and do what I do," Bailey said. "Those shots we missed tonight are shots we usually make. I just tell the shooters to keep shooting because they will go in. I just tried to take it when it was open and pass the ball when it wasn't."
With the defensive focus, though, Bailey had to fight through a lot of defenders. That made a couple of crucial "and-one" opportunities even sweeter for her.
"You can see it on my face when I get one of those," she said with a grin. "When you work your butt off, then make it and get the call, it's a really good feeling."
BYU led by as many as nine in the second half and held the Dons to just eight field goals, but some costly misses and turnovers allowed San Francisco to rally.
On the final play, when the Dons were looking to tie the game with a 3-pointer, the Cougars held their ground and forced San Francisco to hurl a wild shot off the backboard right before the buzzer.
"I thought about fouling them but sometimes you have to go with your feel," Judkins said. "I felt like our defense was playing well enough to not give them a good shot and they didn't."
The first half started as a dramatic exchange of runs.
BYU started it off with a 7-0 spurt to build a 9-3 lead, only to fall behind when the Dons turned the tables and went on a 13-0 scoring streak of their own.
Then it was the Cougars' turn as BYU answered with 10 straight points to go back in front.
Both teams settled in at that point and kept making plays with San Francisco going up 35-33 at the break.
The Cougar shot selection (3-of-12 from 3-point range) and lack of transition opportunities, plus 55.6 percent shooting by the Dons (15-of-27) made all the difference in the opening 20 minutes of play.
BYU went back in front early in the second half and never trailed again but could never shake the scrappy Dons on the scoreboard.
The Cougars (11-4, 3-1) now get a couple of days of work in before heading to Loyola Marymount on Jan. 8. San Francisco (10-6, 0-4), who has lost its last three games by a total of six points, looks to get back on the winning track at home vs. Gonzaga on the same night.