LOS ANGELES — Four different Cougars scored in double figures as BYU women’s basketball defeated Loyola Marymount 71-57 Thursday night at Gersten Pavilion.
“I thought we played really well,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “Our bench was key tonight. Tegan (Graham) and Kaylee (Smiler) hit some really big shots for us. Our defensive effort was also huge. Paisley (Harding) and Maria (Albiero) shut down LMU’s two leading scorers. It was a good win.”
Shaylee Gonzales led all scorers with 20 points on 7 of 14 shooting to go along with five assists, three rebounds and two steals. Lauren Gustin recorded her sixth double-double of the season, pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds while adding 11 points and two assists.
Graham poured in a season-high 14 points after connecting on four of her five three-point attempts and added five assists and three rebounds. Harding was the fourth Cougar to score in double figures on the night, posting 10 points and three rebounds.
Smiler contributed nine points, knocking down three timely 3-pointers, while Sara Hamson tallied two points, two blocks, two rebounds and two steals.
As a team, the Cougars (7-2, 3-1) shot 48% from the field, including 43% from distance, while holding LMU (3-8, 2-4) to 34% shooting. BYU led by as many as 31 points at the end of the third period before fending off a furious Lion comeback attempt in the fourth.
Gonzales opened the game with a steal and a fast-break lay-in before hitting a put-back layup to give the Cougars an early 4-2 lead. Layups by Hamson and Gonzales followed by a Graham corner trey in transition then put BYU up 11-2. Harding drained a triple to cap a 12-0 Cougar run before Harding and Albiero each scored layups to give BYU an 18-6 lead through the first quarter.
Smiler hit a 3-pointer from the wing and Gustin scored in the paint after rebounding her own miss to put the Cougars up 24-10 three minutes into the second quarter. Gonzales blew by her defender for a layup then found Gustin in transition for a lay-in, giving BYU a 28-15 advantage. Graham knocked down a corner trey and Gonzales hit a pair of free throws to close the half and put the Cougars up 33-19 at the break.
Gustin scored a pair of put-back layups to open the second half and give BYU a 38-21 lead. Back-to-back layups by Gonzales and a Graham 3-pointer then stretched the Cougars’ lead to 21, 45-24. Triples by Harding and Smiler then put BYU up 51-24. The Cougars closed the third quarter on a 9-2 run highlighted by a Smiler transition trey to take a 60-29 advantage.
LMU opened the final quarter with a 10-0 run before a Harding layup brought the score to 62-39 for BYU. After the Lions proceeded to score seven unanswered points, Graham knocked down a 3-pointer and scored a fast-break layup to put the Cougars up 67-46. LMU brought the game within 11, 68-57, with 1:26 remaining, but a Kyra Beckman layup with 46 seconds left sealed the 71-57 win for BYU.
The Cougars return to the Marriott Center next week to host a pair of WCC opponents in Saint Mary’s and Pacific. BYU will first host the Gaels on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. MST. The matchup will be broadcast on BYUtv and on the BYUtv App.
Gonzales scored a game-high 10 points through the first half on 4 of 8 shooting. She finished the contest with a game-high 20 points on 7 of 14 shooting to go along with five assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Gustin pulled down eight rebounds in the first 20 minutes to go along with four points. She ended with her sixth double-double of the season, racking up 14 rebounds, 11 points, two assists and one steal.
Graham tallied a season-high 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting, including 4 of 5 from three. She also recorded a season-high five assists, three rebounds and one steal.
Harding also scored in double figures with 10 points while adding three rebounds, one assist and one steal in 31 mintues of action.
Smiler tied her season-high with 9 points on 3 of 5 shooting, going 3 of 4 from distance while contributing one rebound, one assist and one steal.
Hamson swatted two shots on the night and added two points, two rebounds and two steals.
BYU shot 43% from the floor in the first half, including 50% from three, while holding LMU to 24% shooting. On the game, the Cougars shot 48% from the floor and 43% from three while the Lions shot 34% overall.
In the first quarter BYU held LMU to just six points, the least allowed by the Cougars in a single quarter this season.
Four different Cougars scored in double figures for the first time this season (Gonzales, Gustin, Graham and Harding).
BYU out-rebounded the Lions 34-32 and dished out 16 assists compared to LMU’s 14.
The Cougars’ bench outscored the Lions’ reserves 25-14.
BYU had 17 second-chance points to LMU’s 6 and scored 34 points in the paint compared to the Lions’ 24.
The Cougars led throughout the entire contest.