LAS VEGAS – Lexi Eaton scored the game-winning layup with two seconds left to push BYU women’s basketball past Saint Mary’s 65-64 in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament Thursday night.
"I think you saw two teams that played tough and battled, which is how they played all season long," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "I have to give thme a lot of credit, they (Saint Mary's) are a hard team to play. They are well coached and hard to defend. I'm proud of our team and how they played tonight, especially Lexi and Morgan. We changed a lot of things and ran a lot of different defenses. The girls took it to heart and executed it."
With this win, the Cougars (21-9, 12-6 WCC) advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the No. 1 seed Gonzaga against No. 8 seed Loyola Marymount on Friday. Saint Mary’s (20-10, 13-5 WCC) swept BYU in the regular season but was unable to come out the winner in this contest.
Eaton led the Cougars with 30 points, which was a game high in points. She also grabbed seven rebounds.
“I was just trying to attack,” Eaton said. “I saw the driving lanes open up a lot for me this game. I wanted to fight and attack and do what we had to win. We knew we could play with them, and it was just a matter of finishing out the possessions at the end of the game.”
Cassie Broadhead came off the bench to score 10 points, going 5 of 5 from the charity stripe. Despite scoring just four points, Morgan Bailey grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Both Xojian Harry and Kylie Maeda scored seven points, including three treys between the two.
Neither team was able to go on a big run late in the game. Maeda banked in a deep jumper to go up 61-60 with 2:12 remaining in the game. The Gaels had a key putback with less than a minute remaining to take the late 64-63 lead. With two seconds left, Eaton powered through the defense for the game-winning layup to beat Saint Mary’s for the first time this season.
The first five minutes of the game was a defensive battle, both teams scoring a combined eight points. Eaton drove to the basket for the Cougars’ first points, but they would then go scoreless for four minutes.
With 15:13 remaining in the half, Maeda found Eaton cutting to the bucket for a quick two points to cut Saint Mary’s lead to 6-4. Over the next seven minutes, BYU went on a 14-3 run that included three treys, one of which was a four-point play by Broadhead to kick off the big run.
Saint Mary’s answered with a 10-2 run to take back the lead, but Savannah Irwin scored a tough bucket to tie it up 22-22 with 2:35 left in the half. The two teams kept it close in the half. Eaton nailed a jump shot with 13 seconds left, but the Gaels held on to the 30-28 lead going into halftime.
The second half began right where the first half left off, both teams keeping up the intensity. With 14:43 remaining, Eaton drove straight to the basket for a quick layup, tying the game 37-37. Kristine Fuller capped off an 11-4 BYU run with a tricky layup to take the 41-39 lead.
The Gaels later went on a 9-0 run to take back the lead, 51-46. After a missed shot, Eaton grabbed the offensive rebound and put it right back into the basket to close in on Saint Mary’s lead. A mid-range jumper by Bailey tied the game up 54-54 with 6:25 left.
BYU's next game will be Monday at 12 p.m. PST against the winner of the matchup between No. 1 seed Gonzaga and No. 8 seed Loyola Marymount. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv. Live stats will also be available on the BYU women’s basketball schedule page.
BYU got five steals in the first half, while SMC tallied two. The Cougars would finish the game with eight steals, compared with seven for the Gaels.
The Cougars had nine points from SMC turnovers in the first half and finished the game with a total of 15. The Gaels got just six points from BYU miscues.
BYU got 14 points from its bench, compared with 12 for SMC.
With six total assists, the Cougars recorded their 23rd game leading their opponent in the assist category.
Lexi Eaton led the Cougars in the first half with 10 points, making it the 27th game that she’s recorded double figures in scoring. Eaton also had a team-best two steals in the half. She finished the game with 30 for her 15th the game with 20-plus points and the fourth with 30 or more. Eaton was perfect from the free throw line, going 8 for 8.
Morgan Bailey had three rebounds in the first half of action to lead BYU. For the game, she pulled down a team-best nine rebounds, to go along with four points and two steals.
Cassie Broadhead tied her season high in points with six in the first half, the most off the bench for the Cougars. She picked up her first double digit outing in points of her career with 10.
Makenzi Morrison led BYU in steals with three to go along with three points.
Heading into the 2015 West Coast Conference tournament, the BYU women’s basketball team (20-9) is the No. 5 seed, finishing league play with a 12-6 mark.
The Cougars play Saint Mary’s (20-9) Thur., March 5 at 8 p.m. PST. SMC went 13-5 in conference action, finishing tied for third place with Pacific. Because the Tigers swept the Gaels, SMC comes in as the No. 4 seed in the tournament. The game will be carried live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio.
Lexi Eaton, a 5-foot-10 junior guard/forward combo, leads the Cougars in scoring, averaging 20.5 points per game. She ranks third in rebounds, pulling down 6.5 boards. Morgan Bailey, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, is in second place in scoring, tallying 18.0 points, while leading the way in rebounding, averaging 10.7 boards per game. Bailey became BYU’s 26th player to eclipse 1,000 points in the USF game in San Francisco. She was just named the WCC Player of the Year and made the All-WCC First Team along with Eaton. The team’s assist leader is Kylie Maeda, who averages 4.3 assists a game.
BYU is averaging 68.7 points per game, while shooting 43.5 percent from the field, 70.9 percent at the free-throw line and 35.6 percent from 3-point land. In 22 games (most recent at Pacific) the Cougars have dished out more assists than their opponents and have pulled down more rebounds in 14 contests to date. When leading at the break, they are 16-2 and have scored at least 80 points in six games (most recent, 82 at Pacific).
The team has had four players score in double figures in four contests, (most recent at Pacific) and has had three players finish with double-digit points in 11 games (most recent vs. Gonzaga).
BYU head coach Jeff Judkins recorded his 300th win with the 77-58 home victory over Pepperdine on Feb. 5, 2015. With the home win vs. Portand, the program picked up the sixth straight 20-win season, the eighth under Judkins.
• Head coach: Jeff Judkins (Utah, ‘78) 14th season
• Team’s leading scorer: #21 L. Eaton, 20.5 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #41 M. Bailey, 10.7 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #15 K. Maeda, 4.3 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #23 M. Morrison, 1.6 spg
• Team’s blocks leader: #41, M. Bailey, .66 bpg
About SAINT MARY’S
Saint Mary’s has compiled a 20-9 record and finished tied for third place in the WCC regular season race with Pacific.
Lauren Nicholson and Shannon Mauldin score in double digits for the Gaels with 16.8 and 10.6 points, respectively. The team’s leading rebounder is Carli Rosenthal, who grabs 8.2 boards a game.
SMC is averaging 65.3 points, is grabbing 41.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 71.8 percent from the free-throw line. From 3-point range, the Gaels are shooting 29.3 percent.
• Head coach: Paul Thomas (Wayne State, 1988) Eighth season
• Team’s leading scorer: #01 L. Nicholson, 16.8 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #25 C. Rosenthal, 8.0 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #14 S. Mauldin, 2.4 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #14 S. Mauldin, 1.9 spg
• Team’s blocks leader: #14 S. Mauldin, 0.86 bpg
The Gaels lead the overall series 6-3 and swept BYU this year. Head coach Jeff Judkins is 3-6 against SMC. This will be the first time the two league foes have played on a neutral court.
The first meeting between these two league foes was played in Provo on Jan. 17, with Saint Mary’s getting the 10-point, 61-51 win. The SMC victory snapped BYU’s six-game win streak. Morgan Bailey led the Cougars with her ninth double-double of the year from 17 points and a team-best 10 rebounds after playing the entire game. Lexi Eaton chipped in 17 points and seven rebounds. The Cougars were up 31-24 at the break, but a scoring drought in the second half propelled the Gaels to a 53-48 lead. With 1:34 left, Eaton converted two free throws to cut the lead to six and then to five, 53-48. SMC went to the line for two with 41 seconds left, when Eaton nailed a three to cut the lead to 55-51, but the Gaels would go 6-for-6 from the line the rest of the game to seal the win.
In the second matchup, the game went into overtime on Feb. 12 in Moraga. Saint Mary’s picked up the 76-71 overtime win. BYU had three starters in double figures with 23 points from Eaton, 18 from Makenzi Morrison and 16 points from Bailey. She recorded her 13th double-double with a game-high 15 boards. The Cougars had a six-point, 38-32 lead at halftime, but a five-minute scoring drought late in the game allowed the Gaels to get back in the contest. With one minute left, BYU was clinging to a 64-62 lead, when a Carli Rosenthal layup tied the game at 64 with 20 seconds on the clock. Bailey attempted a trey for the win, but missed, sending the game into overtime. In the overtime, BYU led 71-69 with 1:48 left, but SMC made key free throws and forced turnovers to take the 76-71 victory.
A win over Saint Mary’s would send the Cougar women to one of two semifinal games to be played on Mon., Mar. 9, at noon PST. BYU could play either Gonzaga, LMU or Pepperdine.