BYU comeback falls short on Senior Day
PROVO, Utah – Jennifer Hamson’s 20 points and a late second-half BYU surge proved not to be enough for the women's basketball team, which fell to Gonzaga 66-55 on Saturday.
Senior Haley Steed added 14 points and nine assists, while senior Keilani Unga added seven points and three offensive rebounds during their final game at the Marriott Center.
"We had our chances tonight, but Gonzaga's a very good and very balanced team, so you have to give them credit," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "I thought Jen and Haley had outstanding games for us and came out ready to go. We'll be working hard this week and we hope we'll get another shot at Gonzaga in the tournament."
Highlights and Interviews Here.
In the first half, Jennifer Hamson was a presence in the paint early, scoring five points in the first four minutes. Fueled by a strong defensive effort, the Cougars (19-8, 10-4 West Coast Conference) went on an 8-2 run capped by a Kim Parker Beeston jumper to extend their lead to 10-4 with 15:55 remaining in the first half.
Gonzaga (24-5, 14-1 WCC) answered back with a 12-0 run of its own. Stephanie Golden’s jumper with 12:03 remaining in the first half extended the Bulldogs' lead to 16-10.
Steed scored her first points of the game, hitting an off-balance jumper to bring the Cougars within four, down 18-14, at 8:15. Fighting off the Bulldogs' strong offense, Kylie Maeda converted a steal into a layup to cut the Bulldogs' lead to two with 7:05 left in the half.
On the Cougars' next possession, Steed fed Hamson down low for an easy layup to tie the game at 18 with 6:38 remaining in the first half. Golden fueled another run for the Bulldogs with two jumpers and a free throw to extend their lead to 29-20 with 2:45 remaining.
Steed brought the Cougars within striking distance before the end of the half, hitting a jumper inside the arc at 2:18 to bring BYU within seven. Just 30 seconds later, Steed hit a big trey to close the Bulldogs’ lead to four with just under two minutes remaining. The Cougars entered halftime down 30-25. Hamson lead the Cougars with nine points and Golden led the Bulldogs with 11 points at the half.
Both teams traded points back and forth early in the second half as Hamson went to work in the paint. Hamson converted an old-fashioned three-point play after a nice feed from Unga, hitting the layup and free throw with 18:10 remaining. On the Cougars' next possession, Hamson banked a jumper off the glass to narrow the Bulldogs' lead to two with 17:20 remaining.
BYU continued to keep it close as Hamson scored a quick eight points in the second half capped off by a free throw with 15:33 to bring the score to 39-37 Gonzaga. Gonzaga began to find its offensive rhythm, extending its lead to 47-38 with a Taelo Karr layup with 11:39 remaining.
Steed answered with a jumper with 8:59 remaining to bring the Cougars within seven, down 47-40. The Bulldogs’ offense continued to challenge the Cougar defenders as Jazmine Redmond capped off an 11-2 Bulldog run with a jumper and free throw to up Gonzaga’s lead to 58-42 with 6:08 remaining.
Down by 16, Steed sparked the BYU offense from behind the arc, hitting a 3-pointer to narrow Gonzaga’s lead to 58-45 with 5:52 remaining. Maeda added another three to bring the Cougars within 12 at the 4:45 mark.
On the Cougars' next offensive possession, Unga drew the foul and hit both free throws from the charity stripe to bring BYU within 10, down 60-50 with 4:27 remaining in regulation. Gonzaga’s Sunny Greinacher hit a jumper with 2:31 remaining to put the Bulldogs up 62-50 to put a late Cougar comeback out of reach. The Bulldogs extended their lead with late free throws to 66-55 to end regulation.
The Cougars open the final week of conference play on the road Thursday at Loyola Marymount. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m. PST from Gersten Pavilion.
A season-high 1,430 fans were at the Marriott Center for the game Saturday afternoon.
BYU shot 40.7 percent during the game , while Gonzaga shot 43.6 percent. The Bulldogs led in points off turnovers 25-12 while the Cougars outscored 30-22 in the paint.
The loss was BYU’s first at the Marriott Center this season. BYU is now 13-1 at home.
Jennifer Hamson recorded 20 points against the Bulldogs and led the team with eight rebounds. She made 80 percent of her shots on the day, a career high.
Haley Steed also scored in double figures with 14 points. She led the Cougars with nine assists. This was the second game in a row when both Hamson and Steed scored in double figures.
Final two WCC games at home
With just two weeks remaining in the 2013 West Coast Conference season, the BYU women’s basketball team is tied for second place in the latest league standings with Saint Mary’s with identical 9-3 marks. The Cougar women are 18-7 overall and look to stay undefeated at home.
On this week’s slate are two final home games beginning with a Thursday night matchup with Portland (10-16, 5-8) at 7 p.m., MST.
Then on Saturday BYU gets set to host league-leading Gonzaga (22-5, 12-1) in a 2 p.m. MST tip off. At halftime of the Bulldogs and Cougars contest, the No. 22 jersey worn by Jackie Beene McBride will be retired. At the conclusion of the game, the team will recognize its two seniors, Keilani Unga and Haley Steed. Both games air live on BYUtv.
The Cougar team has outrebounded its opponents in 16 of the 25 games played. The BYU bench has outscored the opponent’s bench 476-305. When comparing points in the paint, the Cougars have scored 640 points to 528 from opponents.
BYU has had a halftime lead in all but six games to date (vs. SD, vs. SMC, at USF, at Gonzaga, vs. Seattle and at Washington State). In only four contests (at USF, at Gonzaga, at Boston College and at Washington State) the Cougars did not record more assists than their opponents. Balanced scoring has added to the team’s success this year. To date, three players have put up double figures in points in 12 games and four players finished with double-digit scoring in four games (at PEP, vs. PEP, vs. Tulsa, vs. UCSB).
• Head coach: Jeff Judkins (Utah, ‘78), enters his 12th season
• Team’s leading scorer: #4 Kim Beeston, 10.6 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #5 Jennifer Hamson, 7.9 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #33 Haley Steed, 7.7 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #33 Steed, 2.1 spg
BYU’S PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
#33 Haley Steed– (5-4 guard, GS.) 10.0 ppg; 3.9 rpg; 7.7 apg
#4 Kim Parker Beeston– (5-11 guard, Jr.) 10.6 ppg; 4.2 rpg; 2.3 apg
#12 Stephanie Vermunt Seaborn – (6-0 guard/forward, Jr.) 6.2 ppg; 2.6 rpg; 1.4 apg
#45 Keilani Unga– (6-2 forward, Sr.) 7.2 ppg; 4.4 rpg; 0.8 apg
#5 Jennifer Hamson– (6-7 center, Jr.) 9.1 ppg; 7.9 rpg; 0.7 apg
In the latest league standings, Portland is in sixth place with a 5-8 mark. On the season they’ve compiled a 10-16 record. They are coming off two losses to San Francisco and just a six-point set back to Saint Mary’s 49-43 in Portland on Saturday. The Pilots return eight letterwinners including three starters. Last season they finished in seventh place in the WCC race with a 4-12 record.
• Head coach: Jim Sollars is in his 26th season at Portland
• Team’s leading scorer: #23 Kari Luttinen, 12.5 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #33 Amy Pupa, 8.0 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #32 Jasmine Wooton, 3.0 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #32 Wooton, 2.2 spg
BYU leads the series 10-4
During last year’s WCC race, the Cougars swept the series with the Pilots capturing a 79-53 win in Portland on Jan. 2 and then getting a 76-55 victory in Provo on Jan. 21.
In the contest in Portland, Kristen Riley and Lexi Eaton led the BYU effort with 19 and 11 points respectively, while Haley Steed tallied five assists and three steals. The Cougars shot 40 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free throw line. They also pulled down more boards, 45-36.
Natalie Day led Portland with 16 points and six rebounds. BYU held the Pilots to 30 percent shooting from the field and 67 percent from the charity stripe.
Jennifer Hamson came off the bench in the game in Provo on Jan. 21 as she collected a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Lexi Eaton finished the game with 16 points with Kim Parker contributing 13 points to the winning effort. Haley Steed had 10 assists. The Cougar bench came up big in the contest outscoring the Pilot bench 34-14. BYU shot 43 percent from the field, Portland shot 33 percent. Cassandra Brown led the Pilots with 14 points with Day contributing 11.
Entering the week, Gonzaga improved its record to 22-5 overall, 12-1 in WCC action with home wins over Saint Mary’s and San Francisco. They are all alone in first place in league play with their only loss coming in early January at Saint Mary’s. The Bulldogs are at Santa Clara Thursday night before making the trip to Provo for Saturday’s game. Gonzaga returns two starters and nine letterwinners. Last year Gonzaga advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen after compiling a 28-6 overall record. They won the 2012 WCC regular season crown with a 14-2 mark.
• Head coach: Kelly Graves is in his 12th season at Gonzaga
• Team’s leading scorer: #3 Haiden Palmer, 12.4 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #44 Shelby Cheslek, 5.4 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #34 Jazmine Redmon, 3.9 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #3 Palmer, 3.0 spg
BYU rounds out the WCC regular season race with two road games. They are at LMU Thurs., Feb. 28 and at Portland on Sat. March 2.
The following week the Cougars travel to Las Vegas to compete in the 2013 Zappos WCC Basketball Championships, March 6-11 at The Orleans Arena. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.