Falatea, Gustin score 18 apiece in 76-59 loss to No. 15 Utah
PROVO, Utah — Nani Falatea and Lauren Gustin combined for 36 points but BYU fell 76-59 to rival No. 15 Utah on Saturday evening at the Marriott Center.
"They [BYU] are tough ladies and they are buying into the defensive game plans that we have and are executing it to a T," BYU head coach Amber Whiting said. "I'm really proud of them for that."
Falatea came up just two points shy of a career-high, scoring 18 points on 9-of-21 from the floor and six assists. Gustin recorded her 10th consecutive double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds. The junior from Salem, Utah leads the nation in double-doubles and is ranked third nationally in rebounds per game.
BYU (4-6) held the nation's highest scoring team to just 76 points, only the second team to hold them below 88 in a game this season. Utah (8-0) entered the game averaging 97.0 points per game. Despite the defensive effort, the Cougars shot 40 percent from the field, missing out on a few more opportunities to close the gap.
Utah jumped out a 4-0 lead before a driving score from Falatea got the Cougars on the board. Two free throws from Rose Bubakar tied the game but a 7-0 spurt from the Utes, put them up 11-4.
The Cougars climbed back within four at 13-9 as Gustin beat a double-team to the tin for two and Kaylee Smiler drained a 3-pointer.
Utah responded with two scoring possessions and led 18-10 at quarter’s end.
Falatea sparked the Cougar offense in the second period, scoring six points, four of which came on back-to-back drives to the basket that cut Utah’s lead to eight at 29-19. BYU would answer Utah scores and remain within eight after free throw makes from Smiler and another bucket from Falatea.
Utah stretched its lead to 39-25 before Gustin scored to end the half with the Cougars down 39-27.
Falatea (8), Bubakar (7) and Smiler (5) led BYU in scoring at the half.
The Utes went up by as many as 17 at 49-32, but Falatea again fueled the offense, slicing through the Utah defense and scoring on three consecutive drives to the basket. The sophomore from Salt Lake City brought BYU within 11 at 49-38 and a Smiler score kept the game there with 3:01 to go in the quarter.
The Utes then responded to the Cougars’ scoring surge with an 8-3 run to close the quarter with a 59-43 lead.
BYU began the fourth with another comeback. Free-throw makes from Arielle Mackey-Williams and another Falatea bucket brought BYU within 13 at 60-47 in the quarter’s opening moments. The Cougars then cut into the deficit again with Falatea dishing to Gustin for points in the paint.
Down 60-49 with 8:07 to play, momentum was moving in BYU’s favor and the Cougars needed a stop. Just as she had been on offense, Falatea was the answer on defense. The Cougar point guard poked away a Utah pass, disrupting the opposing offense and forcing a shot clock violation. Despite Falatea’s stop and others that followed the BYU offense was unable to capitalize and slipped back to a 14-point deficit after a Utah triple.
Gustin powered the BYU offense in the closing minutes of the game, though it was not enough as Utah kept the Cougars down 76-59 in the end.
BYU begins West Coast Conference play with a two-game road trip at Gonzaga and Portland. The Cougars will visits the Zags on Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. PST with the game streamed live on the WCC Network.
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