Jack Urquhart | Posted: 5 Jan 2017 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Late heroics from Purcell, Broadhead and Nielson preserve win over Gaels

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PROVO, Utah – A late block from Kalani Purcell and a 3-point play from Cassie Broadhead were key in BYU's 70-65 win over Saint Mary's on Thursday night at the Marriott Center.

"We played a really great first half," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "In the second half we got into their game. We didn't do a good job attacking. I give Saint Mary's a lot of credit for that. They are a hard team to play. I thought in the last two minutes we stepped up defensively."

Purcell flirted with a triple-double, with 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Broadhead led all scorers with 22 points and Makenzi Pulsipher added 16 points.

With the Gaels poised to take their first lead of the game, Purcell swatted a shot with 46 seconds left and the Cougars retained possession in a 61-61 deadlock. On the other end, Broadhead was fouled on a jumper she made and hit the free throw to put BYU up 64-61. Saint Mary's fought back, but free throws from Broadhead and Kristine Nielson sealed the 70-65 win for the Cougars.

BYU got off to a hot offensive start in the first quarter, making its first four field goals and 9-of-13 overall to lead 22-13. Broadhead made all three of her shots, including two from beyond the arc, for eight points. Freshman Brenna Chase came off the bench to score on two straight possessions and then dish an assist to Broadhead at the top of the key for a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Purcell gave the Cougars their second double-digit lead of the game (29-18) with a three-point play three minutes into the second quarter. With that, she had made her first five field goal attempts and had 12 points. Purcell ended the half with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

BYU gradually increased its lead over the rest of the second quarter and went into the half up 38-25. In addition to Purcell's 14, Broadhead had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. The Cougars shot 61.5 percent (16-of-26) in the first half and held the Gaels to 33 percent (9-of-27).

A few minutes into the third quarter, Pulsipher gave BYU its first lead of more than 15 with a 3-pointer from the wing. The Cougars led 47-30 and tacked one more on the lead with a free throw from Nielson.

At the end of three quarters, BYU held a 54-43 advantage.

Saint Mary's made the first two field goals of the fourth quarter and cut its deficit to seven points, the smallest since early in the second quarter. Another Gael run with under five minutes to play narrowed the gap to just two points, 59-57, with 3:16 left to play. A pair of free throws tied the game at 59-59 with 2:29 left to play.

Broadhead had a driving bucket in traffic with 1:45 left to put the Cougars back up by two. On the other end, the Gaels hit two more free throws to knot it up at 61-61.

That led to the sequence of Purcell's block and Broadhead's 3-point play. Saint Mary's had a couple layups in the waning seconds, but Broadhead made 4-of-4 free throws and Nielson hit 2-of-2 from the charity stripe and blocked a 3-pointer to put it away for BYU.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 8-6, 2-1 (West Coast Conference), while the Gaels fell to 6-8, 1-2 (WCC).

It's a quick turnaround on the road for BYU, as it heads to Pacific on Saturday. That game will take place at 2 p.m. PST and can be streamed at TheW.tv with a radio broadcast on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143). Live stats can be found on the BYU women's basketball schedule page.

Postgame Notes


BYU took the 13–point 38-25 lead into halftime and finished the contest with a 5-point 70-65 victory.

With its second win in two games, BYU women’s basketball moves to 7-6 all-time against Saint Mary’s.

The Cougars shot 61.5 percent in the first 20 minutes of action, with Purcell and Broadhead going 11-of-13 from the field.  BYU concluded the contest shooting 46.2 percent as a team.

18 of the Cougars first half points came from inside the paint to six of the Gaels. After 40 minutes of play, BYU totaled 30 points in the paint to Saint Mary’s 26. 

As a team BYU dished out 19 assists to Saint Mary’s 13. The Cougars are now 5-1 on the season when they tally more assists than the opposing team.

For the fourth time this season, three Cougars finished the game in double figures—Broadhead (22), Purcell (18), and Pulsipher (16).


Kalani Purcell went into halftime leading both teams with a game-high 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. The senior All-American went 6-of-7 from the field in the first half of play, and finished with a career-best field goal percentage of 80 percent (8-of-10 from the field). Purcell recorded her fourth straight double-double and seventh of the season. The New Zealand native finished the contest with 18 points, along with a game-high 12 rebounds and nine assists. She also recorded a team-best three steals.

Averaging a team-high 17.1 points a game, Cassie Broadhead finished the game with a game-best 22 points—Her 22 points make for her seventh game of the season with at least 20 points. Broadhead finished the game going 7-of-13 from the field. The junior led the Cougars with eight first quarter points, going 2-of-2 from the 3-point line. Converting a 3-point play with 25.3 seconds left, Broadhead gave BYU the late three-point to seal the BYU victory.

Makenzi Pulsipher scored in double figures for the 11th time this season. The senior tallied 16 points and went 7-of-7 of from the charity stripe. Pulsipher also added three rebounds and two assists.

Freshman forward Shalae Salmon recorded and season- and career-high six rebounds in the win against Saint Mary’s. She also dished out a career-best three assists and had two points.


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