Women No. 5 seed in WCC tournament, battle Saint Maryâ€™s Thursday night
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.
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