Harding's career night powers 85-80 win over Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – Senior guard Paisley Harding had a career night with 33 points and led the No. 21 BYU women’s basketball team to an 85-80 win over Utah at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City Saturday night.
"Paisley wanted to play really well here," head coach Jeff Judkins said. "She knew it was her last time up here and that she needed to step up. What a performance, the kid is amazing."
BYU (8-0) needed all of Harding’s effort as Utah (6-2) scored in bunches in a blistering last stand to cut BYU's lead down to one possession in the final minute. The Cougars held off the charge and hung onto the victory with Shaylee Gonzales making two free throws in the final seconds to ice the game.
Harding made 14 of 20 shots for her 33 points and added three rebounds, three assists and one steal. Shaylee Gonzales scored 20 points and had seven assists and two boards while Tegan Graham had nine points, eight assists and six boards to fill the stat sheet.
The Cougars shot a season-high 59.0 percent from the field and made nine threes in the game.
Graham hit her second 3-pointer of the first quarter to put BYU up 10-6 with just under seven minutes left. Gonzales added another floater and Harding picked up a steal and a layup to double up the Utes at 14-7 at the four-minute mark.
Harding drained another trey as part of a 7-0 run to push BYU’s edge to 19-7 just a minute later. Utah put together a 7-0 run to end the first quarter but the Cougars still had a 24-17 advantage heading into the second.
The Utes continued to make a run and closed the gap to 29-26 before Gonzales picked up another layup midway through the second quarter to push the lead back to 31-26.
Back-to-back buckets from Harding made it 39-31 with two minutes remaining until halftime. Inside of one minute to go, Maria Albiero drained a three and Emma Calvert added a short jumper for BYU to lead 44-33 at halftime. Harding led all scorers with 19 points at halftime.
BYU came out hot again in the second half, extending the lead to 52-35 behind Graham and Harding triples in the first three minutes. Harding dished to Gonzales for an easy layup to give BYU a 21-point lead at 58-37 two minutes later.
At the end of the third quarter, BYU kept the pressure on, leading 67-51.
Harding continued to pour it on with her 13th make of the game, tying her career high 31 points and gave BYU a 76-62 lead with just under six minutes left in the game.
Utah wasn’t going to go away quietly, however, cutting BYU’s edge to 82-77 with just over a minute to play.
After Gonzales added one free throw make, the Utes made another triple with 13.4 seconds left to make things a one-possession game at 83-80.
BYU managed to play keep away on the inbounds play, taking seven seconds off the clock before Utah could foul and Gonzales hit both freebies to put the game away, winning it 85-80.
Up next, BYU heads to future Big 12 conference foe, Oklahoma, on Friday, Dec. 10. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CST and will be broadcast on Sooner Sports TV.
No. 21 BYU heads to the University of Utah Saturday
PROVO, Utah – The No. 21 BYU women's basketball team plays on the road at Utah in the Huntsman Center on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
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- LAST GAME: BYU won the St. Pete Showcase with a 58-57 win over No. 22 West Virginia. The Cougars beat No. 17 Florida State on Thanksgiving as well during the tournament.
- After missing three games due to Covid-19, head Coach Jeff Judkins is back. Assistant coach Lee Cummard went 3-0 while fulfilling head coaching duties.
- BYU is ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2019 at No. 21 this week. The Cougars highest ranking came in 2006 at No. 18.
- The Cougars are 7-0 to start the year for the first time since the 2013-14 season. BYU started 9-0 that year and finished 28-7 and made a run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
- Shaylee Gonzales was named the ESPN and WCC Player of the Week after averaging 22.7 over three games and winning the MVP at the St. Pete Showcase.
- Senior point guard Dru Gylten picked up five assists in the game against Eastern Illinois and now has 440 for her career, which moves her into a tie for 6th place on the all-time career assists list at Utah with Karen Alcorn.
- Utah will be looking for its first win over a Top 25 team this season. Utah has knocked off a Top 25 opponent each year, under the direction of Lynne Roberts.
- Utah holds an 81-percent winning percentage when playing in Salt Lake City, holding an all-time record of 528-127. Utah is a perfect 4-0 at home during the 2021-22 season.
- The Utes offense is explosive this season. They are averaging 88.3 points per game, the second-best mark in the nation, and 11.7 three-pointers per game, second-best in the NCAA.