2021-22 BYU Women's Basketball Season Review
BYU’s 2021-22 season was a season for the record books in a historic final run for head coach Jeff Judkins and one of the most talented and experienced squads of his 21-year career at BYU.
The record holder for most wins in BYU basketball history, men’s or women’s, Judkins announced his retirement following the season with a record of 456-204 as the leader of the Cougar program for the past two decades.
BYU went 26-4 and won the regular-season West Coast Conference title, earned three first-team All-WCC selections and featured the WCC Player of the Year and the WCC Coach of the Year for the second-consecutive season.
The team featured a loaded roster with a legitimate player of the year candidate and All-American in Shaylee Gonzales, one of the nation’s best rebounders in Lauren Gustin and four senior standouts, including Paisley Harding, Maria Albiero, Tegan Graham and Sara Hamson.
All four seniors opted to come back for an additional year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to Covid-19 cutting short the 2020 season.
The experience paid off for the Cougars as not only did BYU win, but the team did it in style all year long, outscoring opponents by a school-record 18.8 points per game, good for No. 6 in the nation and had the support of Cougar Nation with a perfect 14-0 record at home.
The team put on a show one last time with a storybook ending on senior night at the Marriott Center with a historic 63-39 rout of WCC rival Gonzaga in front of 6,289 fans—the most to ever watch a home BYU women’s basketball game in school history.
All that scoring and support came from one of the most unselfish teams in the country, dishing out 19.8 assists per game, ranked No. 2 in the NCAA. With every pass, BYU finished at the rim better than most teams in the country, ranking No. 7 in field goal percentage at 46.5 percent.
BYU’s high-powered offense scored 77.1 points per game, a number good for No. 13 nationally but it was the defense that made the difference in most games, holding teams to just 36.0 percent shooting.
The national voters took notice of the Cougars throughout the year, keeping BYU in the Associated Press Top 25 for 16 consecutive weeks, nearly doubling the previous school record of nine weeks.
The Cougars reached as high as No. 15 and finished ranked for just the third time in school history, equaling 1980’s best finish of No. 20.
Amidst BYU’s run came another school-record five Power Five wins, beating Arizona State, Florida State, West Virginia, Utah and Washington State. The Cougars also swept WCC regular-season series’ with Santa Clara, San Diego, San Francisco and Gonzaga for the first time in school history.
The postseason didn’t last as long for the Cougars as they had hoped but despite losing the conference tournament championship, BYU still earned its 10th NCAA Tournament bid under Judkins with a No. 6 seed–the highest bid in school history.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats handed BYU an early exit to the NCAA Tournament but the loss did not deter BYU from all it accomplished in the 2021-22 season that will always be remembered for some of the greatest moments in program history and the best players to ever wear the “Y” on their jersey.
Read more about the Cougars 2021-22 season with more in-depth reviews on the games and team and player notables below.
Non-Conference Schedule Review
BYU began the year with an 8-0 run to build momentum in the non-conference slate. A 5-0 mark against Power 5 Conference teams and two wins over ranked opponents highlighted the early season schedule.
Amidst the non-conference stories included head coach Jeff Judkins sidelined due to Covid-19 and assistant coach Lee Cummard handling the head coaching duties.
All Cummard did was lead the Cougars to a 3-0 record, including its first of three 100-point performances during the season and two wins over ranked teams and a St. Pete Showcase championship. BYU beat No. 17 Florida State and came back to beat No. 22 West Virginia 58-57 in a thriller to win the tournament.
Judkins returned just in time for the annual matchup with Utah, this time on the road. Having to dive right in, Judkins would also be without several players and assistant coaches due with illness.
Shorthanded and missing top rebounder Lauren Gustin, Judkins relied on a record-night from Paisley Harding to the tune of a career-high 33 points to beat the Utes 85-80 at the Huntsman Center.
The next week, the Cougars suffered their first setback in a 99-91 overtime loss at Oklahoma. The Sooners of the Big 12 went on to earn a four seed in the NCAA Tournament. Tegan Graham set the school record with 10 made 3-pointers against Oklahoma.
BYU bounced back to win its last two games before the conference season with another Power Five win, beating Washington State 71-53 and Montana State on the road.
West Coast Conference Season
The first week of WCC play sputtered as every game was postponed due to Covid-19 outbreaks. After two weeks off, BYU raced out to an 8-0 start in the league before running into some adversity.
BYU visited Portland at the wrong time as the Pilots came out hot to start the game and handed the Cougars a 75-64 defeat—their first conference loss of the year.
After losing its first league game, BYU used it as motivation and put together one of its best wins of the season against perennial WCC power Gonzaga at the Kennel in Spokane, Washington.
Down 35-20 at halftime, and Harding on the medical table after suffering a bleeding gash under the eye just before the break, things looked bleak for the Cougars.
Enter 6-foot-7 Sara Hamson and her five blocks and an epic return to the court by Harding with four stitches and 12 third-quarter points, the two sparked a comeback for the ages with a 42-15 second half and a 62-50 win to stun the Zags on their home floor.
Three more wins set up one of the most anticipated rematches of the year with Gonzaga’s visit to Provo.
In front of a record-setting crowd, BYU wasn’t even going to entertain the idea of an upset on senior night and blew out the Bulldogs 63-39 in a fitting end to a perfect 14-0 season in Provo.
The Cougars finished the regular season at 25-2 and 15-1 in the league, their best mark since joining the conference and clinched the outright WCC title. The 25 wins set a program record for wins in the regular season.
Shaylee Gonzales won Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season, averaging 18.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals. She was named a second-team All-America selection by the Athletic.
Judkins earned WCC Head Coach of the Year honors while Gonzales, Harding and Gustin were all first-team All-WCC selections. Graham was an honorable mention.
The postseason wasn’t as kind to the Cougars as the regular season was.
The Cougars did get some revenge with a 59-52 win over Portland in the semifinals, the only WCC team to beat them in the regular season.
The win might have taken more out of the Cougars than expected when the next day the squad struggled to keep pace with Gonzaga for the third time, eventually falling to the Bulldogs in the title game.
BYU had already done enough to earn an at-large bid and received a No. 6 seed to play No. 11 Villanova in Michigan in the NCAA Tournament.
The matchup was another tough one, going up against the Big East player of the year and All-American Maddy Siegrist.
The Wildcats sent the Cougars home early with a 61-57 loss and time ran out on a special season.
Team Notables (2021-22 season)
- Won the West Coast Conference regular-season championship
- No. 20 final AP Top 25 ranking
- Spent 16 consecutive weeks in AP Top 25 – most in school history
- Most wins in the regular season (25) in program history
- Five wins against Power 5 opponents (Arizona State, Florida State, West Virginia, Utah, Washington State)
- WCC Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, 3 first-team All-WCC selections, 1 honorable mention
- Undefeated at the Marriott Center (14-0)
- Set BYU single-game attendance record vs. Gonzaga on Feb. 19, 2022 (6,289)
- Set BYU average per game attendance record in 2021-22 season (1,775)
- Set BYU single season record for scoring margin (+18.8)
- No. 1 in FT percentage at BYU (.755)
- No. 2 in 3-pointers per game at BYU (7.2)
- No. 3 in FG percentage at BYU (.465)
- National Rankings
- No. 2 in assists per game (19.8)
- No. 4 assist/turnover ratio (1.51)
- No. 6 scoring margin (18.8)
- No. 7 field goal percentage (46.5)
- No. 7 total assists (593)
- No. 13 scoring offense (77.1)
- No. 26 turnover margin (4.67)
- No. 27 field goal percentage defense (36.0)
Head Coach Jeff Judkins
- Announced retirement following the 2021-22 season after 21 years as the head coach at BYU
- Career record of 456-204
- WCC Coach of the Year (6th career coach of the year honor)
- Semifinalist for Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year
- Won 450th career game on Feb. 10 vs. Pepperdine
- 10th NCAA Tournament Appearance
- Career record of 456-204
- 2021-22 WCC Player of the Year
- Second-team All-American – The Athletic
- AP All-America Honorable Mention
- Becky Hammon Mid-major Player of the Year Finalist
- Naismith Trophy Midseason Team
- All-WCC First Team
- Three-time WCC Player of the Week
- Career-high 35 points against St. Mary’s (Feb. 12, 2022)
- Averaged 18.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals
- No. 2 in assists in WCC (4.5)
- No. 3 in scoring in WCC (18.3)
- Scored in double figures in 28 of 30 games
- 13 games with 20 or more points
- No. 10 in career points at BYU (1,555)
- Set BYU record with 146 games played in career
- No. 10 nationally in assist to turnover ratio (2.67)
- Started all 30 games in 2021-22
- Shot 42.1 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three
- Posted at least three assists in 19 games
- Had multiple steals in 11 games
- Played 30 minute or more in nine games
- Scored in 28 of 30 games
- 2021-22 All-WCC Honorable Mention
- Led the WCC in total assists (144) and assists per game (4.8)
- Set BYU record with 10 made 3-pointers at Oklahoma (Dec. 10, 2021)
- Averaged 10.0 points per game, starting all 30 games played
- Hit double-figures in 16 games
- No. 3 in WCC in 3-pointers per game (2.4)
- No. 5 in WCC in 3-point FG percentage (38.7)
- No. 11 nationally in assist to turnover (2.62)
- No. 49 nationally in assists per game (4.8)
- No. 50 nationally in total 3-pointers made (72)
- Tied for No. 9 in BYU single-season records with 72 made 3-pointers in 2021-22
- No. 14 in career 3-pointers at BYU after just two seasons (116)
- All-WCC First Team
- Finalist for Katrina McClain Award
- Led WCC and No. 8 nationally in rebounding average (11.6)
- Posted 14 double-doubles (No. 28 nationally)
- Career-high 21 rebounds at Oklahoma (Dec. 10, 2021)
- Led WCC in total rebounds (335) and No. 17 nationally
- No. 4 in single-season history at BYU with 335 boards
- Led WCC with 4.3 offensive rebounds per game
- WCC Player of the Week (Dec. 27, 2021)
- Scored in double figures in 19 games
- Pulled down double-digit rebounds in 23 games
- Season-high 18 points against Utah State (Nov. 23, 2021)
- Shot 50.7 percent from the field (No. 7 in WCC)
- No. 14 in career rebounds at BYU with 638
- All-WCC First Team
- Set BYU record with 146 games played in career
- Finished career with 1,938 total points to finish at No. 6 at BYU
- No. 7 at BYU in total 3-pointers (220)
- No. 21 in career field-goal percentage at BYU (.419)
- No. 4 in career free-throw percentage (.775)
- Tied for No. 12 in career assists (381)
- Two-time WCC Player of the Week
- No. 4 in WCC with 17.1 points per game
- Scored in double-figures in 27 of 30 games
- Topped 20 points in nine games and 30 twice
- Scored career-high 33 points at Utah (Dec. 4, 2021)
- Shot 45.0 percent from the field and 33.3 from three
- Played in all 30 games
- No. 14 nationally in total blocks (74)
- No. 15 nationally in blocks per game (2.5)
- 22 games with multiple blocks in 2021-22
- Shot 68.1 percent from the field
- Finished No. 2 at BYU in total blocks (472) behind mother, Tresa Hamson (494) and ahead of sister Jennifer Hamson (340)
- No. 6 at BYU in career games played (141)
- Recorded at least one block in 126 of 141 career games
- No. 6 at BYU in career rebounds (813)
- NCAA active career leader in total blocks during 2021-22 season
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