Women's Basketball Falls to Montana State 69-60
PROVO, Utah — Turnovers and 3-pointers proved the difference as BYU women’s basketball fell 69-60 to defending Big Sky Tournament Champions Montana State at the Marriott Center Saturday afternoon.
Despite outshooting the Bobcats 44 to 38 percent from the field, BYU was unable to find an answer for Montana State’s 50 percent mark from beyond the arc. Seventeen BYU turnovers and 11 Montana State points off those giveaways also contributed to the defeat.
"We're learning right now," said BYU women's basketball head coach Amber Whiting. "We need to be patient with ourselves and we will get better. Moving forward, we will need more out of everybody."
Led by double-double machine Lauren Gustin, the Cougars outrebounded the Bobcats 34-33. With 12 rebounds on Saturday, Gustin recorded her 32nd career double-double with her 12 points.
Sophomore point guard Nani Falatea recorded a career-high 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field along with six assists. Rose Bubakar, a sophomore from Frederick, Maryland posted a career-high 12 points after previously scoring eight versus Utah State in November 2021. Kaylee Smiler added 12 points as well.
Montana State was led by 16 points from guard Darian White.
Saturday’s loss snapped a 30-game home win streak for the Cougars. BYU’s last loss at the Marriott Center came against Portland on Jan. 4, 2020.
Both defenses dominated to start as it took nearly five minutes for a field goal to be scored from either team. While field goals weren’t falling early for the Cougars, BYU took advantage of opportunities from the free throw line. Free throw makes from Falatea, Smiler and Bubakar fueled a six-point swing as BYU climbed to an 11-6 lead.
A Bobcat 3-pointer narrowed the Cougars lead before Bubakar responded with a made jumper, helping BYU to a 13-12 edge at quarter’s end.
The Cougars and Bobcats combined to go 6-of-24 from the floor and attempt 14 free throws in the first quarter. BYU’s 7-of-8 mark from the charity stripe helped them keep pace with Montana State.
Falatea and Arielle Mackey-Williams led the charge on offense for BYU in the second period. The two guards helped the Cougars respond to Montana State scoring, with both pitching in from deep on 3-pointers that gave BYU a 21-18 lead. Despite a quick 5-0 run from the Bobcats, BYU quickly countered to go up 24-23 with Gustin finding Kaylee Smiler for a 3-point make.
Following lay-ins from Mackey-Williams, Gustin and Bubakar, Gustin would again distribute to Smiler for a 3-pointer. The Cougars ended the half with a 33-32 lead after the offense awoke to shoot 53 percent from the field, including 4-of-6 from distance in the second quarter. Falatea led BYU with nine points at the half. Bubakar added eight first-half points while Mackey-Williams and Smiler recorded seven a-piece.
Turnovers were troublesome for the Cougars in the first half. BYU gave the ball away eight times compared to one turnover for Montana State.
Turnovers proved costly for the Cougars as Montana State started the second half converting takeaways to points and jumping out to a 41-33 lead. Gustin and Bubakar led BYU’s counterattack, scoring in the paint and bringing the Cougars back within five at 46-41. BYU further trimmed the deficit with its defense forcing wild shots and empty Bobcat possessions. A Smiler 3-pointer would bring BYU within two at 48-46 with 2:46 to go in the quarter.
Despite BYU’s fight, Montana State drained four 3-pointers in the quarter and took a seven-point lead into the fourth at 55-48.
Falatea and Gustin put up points in the paint to keep BYU in the game to start the quarter. The Cougar defense also earned a collection of crucial stops before turnovers and empty possessions doomed BYU down the stretch. Six Montana State free throw makes sealed the win for the visitors at 69-60.
BYU plays its second home game of the season on Nov. 15 as it welcomes future Big 12 opponent Oklahoma to the Marriott Center. The Cougars and 15th-ranked Sooners will tipoff at 3 p.m. MST on Tuesday. Watch the game live on BYUtv.org/BYUtv App.
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