BYU Women's basketball vs. Saint Mary's 27

Brigham Young University players celebrate a three-pointer from the bench 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

How do you kill a three-game losing streak?

A good blowout will do.

The BYU women’s basketball team got out our its recent funk with a huge start against Pacific and led by as many as 35 points in Saturday’s 75-49 victory at the Marriott Center.

“It feels nice to get back on track,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “I thought the first five or six minutes of the game was really key. Sara (Hamson) came out and was really active, not just blocking shots but being in the right position. Our guards were very, very sharp and our pressure got us some easy baskets because of it.”

Leading scorer Shaylee Gonzales, who has been in a bit of slump, tallied 15 first-half points and finished with 18.

“The win feels really good,” Gonzales said. “The past three games have been kind of tough for us. We needed to get that bad taste out of our mouths. We told ourselves we needed to really come out and win this game and that’s what we did.”

The 6-foot-7 Hamson contributed a pair of blocks and a basket as BYU jumped on Pacific from the beginning. The Cougars led 9-0 after Gonzales splashed a 3-pointer just over two minutes into the first quarter. BYU led 17-4 midway through the first and went on a 7-0 run in the final minute, with Paisley Johnson and Gonzales each turning steals into breakaway layups. The Cougars led 24-9 after one quarter and Gonzales opened the second with another triple for a 27-9 advantage.

“Sara gave us a big spark with her blocks and her defensive presence in the post,” Johnson said. “Pushing the ball really sped up the game for us and slowed it down for them.”

Gonzales’ 3-pointer was part of a 14-2 burst to open the second quarter and BYU led 38-11. Pacific finally got a late three to fall but was a dismal 6 of 32 (19 percent) from the field in the first half and committed 12 turnovers. The Cougars led 44-19 at halftime.

In its three straight league losses, BYU trailed Loyola Marymount 16-6 in the first quarter, Pepperdine 39-29 at halftime and Saint Mary’s 21-10 in the opening period. Saturday’s quick start put Pacific on its heels and the Tigers never recovered.

“We’ve noticed that they (Pacific) have come out and started very well,” Judkins said. “We talk about it, but the hard part is you’ve got to go do it. I thought all of them (his players) came out very sharp and aggressive and that set a great tone for us.”

BYU outscored Pacific 14-3 to open the third quarter, which included six points from Johnson and another triple from Gonzales, for a 58-23 lead. Judkins substituted freely the rest of the game.

The three-game losing streak was history.

“There were definitely a lot of late nights for myself, thinking about what we could do to change something up,” Johnson said. “We just had to go out and play like we know how and play instinctively. Then also listen to Juddy and implement what we do in practice.”

Johnson scored 17 for BYU, with Chase adding 13. Hamson finished with seven points, three rebounds and four blocks.

Valerie Higgins paced Pacific (8-5 WCC, 15-8 overall) with 18 points, but the Tigers were just 17 of 64 (27 percent) from the field and 2 of 22 (9 percent) from the 3-point line.

BYU (10-3, 18-6) heads out on the road next week in West Coast Conference play with games at Portland and league-leading Gonzaga.

Darnell Dickson, who has been covering sports in Utah since 1989 (with a detour to Nebraska for three years somewhere in there), is currently the BYU football columnist and BYU men’s basketball beat writer.

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